An insight into SLANSHEI’s mission; Interview with Dr. Athula Pitigala-Arachchi – President SLANSHEI
Could you explain the goal of SLANSHEI?
SLANSHEI, the Sri Lanka Association of Non-State Higher Education Institutes, is an umbrella organisation of non-state higher education institutes. Established in 2016, SLANSHEI membership now comprises 14 leading non-state higher education institutes. Our Vision is to develop the non-state higher education sector in Sri Lanka to be one of the most robust and reputable in the region. This will be achieved by improving its capacity, quality, standards, diversity, innovativeness, and internationalization.
It is clear that the state universities cannot meet the demand for higher education in Sri Lanka. Higher education provision in the nonstate sector must expand to absorb the increasing demand. Therefore, a key objective of SLANSHEI is to promote the expansion and improvement of quality higher education provision in the non-state sector- we work towards creating high-quality higher education opportunities for our youth. This will help increasing numbers of our youth to pursue rewarding careers and contribute meaningfully to socio-economic development of our country.
How does SLANSHEI go about achieving these targets?
Broadly speaking, we adopt two approaches to achieving our objectives. On the one hand, we work with higher education institutions in the non-state sector to help them expand and improve their education/training programmes. This is achieved through sharing of resources, expertise, and best practices.
On the other hand, we work with the government to help develop an appropriate policy and regulatory framework that is conducive to the development of the non-state higher education sector. In this regard, we frequently interact with the ministry of education and related government bodies such as the UGC, EDB, and the Department of Immigration and Emigration. We submit strategic proposals for the improvement of the non-state higher education sector and follow up with government officials towards their implementation.
Could you elaborate on the ongoing activities of SLANSHEI?
On the other hand, we work with the government to help develop an appropriate policy and regulatory framework that is conducive to the development of the non-state higher education sector.
In this regard, we frequently interact with the ministry of education and related government bodies such as the UGC, EDB, and the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
We submit strategic proposals for the improvement of the non-state higher education sector and follow up with government officials towards their implementation. We are taking steps to increase public awareness and acceptance of non-state higher education. Not many are aware that the contribution of the non-state sector to higher education is substantial with an annual enrolment of more than 20,000 students into degree programmes. We are taking further steps to enhance our research profile, establish an independent quality assurance mechanism, and obtain university status for suitable institutions. We are working with EDB to develop Sri Lanka as an attractive destination for higher education. We believe Sri Lanka has great potential to attract large numbers of foreign students and earn substantial foreign exchange. Moreover, such internationalization will help transplant latest technologies and international best practices in the country.
What is unique about the member institutions of SLANSHEI?
Membership of SLANSHEI is granted after a thorough evaluation/screening. First, a higher education institute must offer programmes leading to the award of degrees to be eligible for membership. It must also have an unblemished track record. Further, the institution must prove that it has human and physical resources, and policies and procedures to uphold quality and standard of education provision. SLANSHEI member institutes offer two types of degrees. Some offer local degrees approved and accredited by the Ministry of Education (Higher Education Division). Some offer foreign degrees approved and accredited by overseas partner universities. Hence, SLANSHEI member institutes are subject to rigorous external quality assurance processes periodically. This means the public can have confidence that the higher education programmes offered by SLANSHEI member Institutes are of high quality and standard, and the training provided would lead to gainful employment of graduates.