Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sri Lanka Higher Educational Pathways should Widen-Academics

Sri Lanka which offers free education to students needs to widen the higher educational pathways and offer low cost private education options to students for the knowledge hub dream to realize, an academic said.

"Sri Lanka higher education paths are very narrow but the demand is very high," Athula Pitigala-Arachchi, head of Asia Pacific Institute of Information Tecnology (APPIIT), an affiliated college said.

"The government has to think innovatively to cope with this massive demand for university education and private higher education is a good option for the students."

Sri Lanka has 15 state universities and no non state universities or private universities. There are 200,000 students passing out following the successful completion of their secondary education with only 25,000 students qualifying to entre state universities.

Pitigala-Arachchi says in Sri Lanka higher education has been a state monopoly for decades and the public sector has not expanded adequately to meet the demand.

"In Sri Lanka and even south Asia, the number of students entering to the higher education is very low," he said. "The reason for this in Sri Lanka is limited capacity"

The island has educational institutions offering foreign degrees which are not affordable for most of students in the island.

Pitigala-Arachchi says the government cannot alone face this challenge with other priorities in health, transport and infrastructure development sector and work in private public partnership in providing higher education for students through private universities.

"The private sector has to play a role. It is growing over the past two to three year but has not grown enough,"

However he says the number of students entering the private higher education is still small due to lack of funds and some of the students fly overseas seeking foreign degrees.

"The private higher education is expensive in Sri Lankan contest and lot many students can’t afford in the private sector." Pitigala-Arachchi said.

He says while government expanding the state universities, it should give concession to private universities to be establish in the island and to offer degrees in a lower rate so the students can afford to do the degree within the country and most students can be accessible for the higher education.

"But the private sector alone cannot do this, the government also should support private sector to help the cost of private education to be down,"

"The government can give various concessions like grants, tax concessions, land on long term lease, access to scholarships and training facilities and may be loans for concessionary rate." 
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