– An extract from the speech by Prof. Ananda Jayawardane, Chairman, Commercial Bank, at the SLANSHEI AGM 2022
In the midst of post-pandemic recovery and economic challenges, Sri Lanka is beset with a grave challenge: a dearth of adequately trained human resources to contribute to national development. State university admission has become increasingly competitive over the years due to the limited number of places available for GCE A/L qualiﬁed students. Moreover, those who follow A/L equivalent international curricula cannot enter the state universities.
Consequently, non-state higher education institutes play a vital role in expanding higher education opportunities. Their ability to collaborate with foreign universities to offer innovative study programmes including joint degrees and dual degrees allows these institutes to recruit students to study programs of international repute.
However, to maintain a competitive advantage, non-state higher education providers must take into consideration the needs of the industry and professions in deﬁning graduate attributes; they must ensure that the curriculum and its delivery foster the development of these graduate attributes leading to high rates of employability. To provide students with a rewarding learning experience and guarantee excellent graduate outcomes, it is imperative that the non-state sector maintains a high-quality learning environment including dedicated, qualiﬁed, and trained fulltime staff, and modern teaching and learning resources such as e-libraries, laboratories, and equipment. Furthermore, the non-state sector must increase its research output and enhance its reputation. The research proﬁle and recognition will help attract increasing numbers of local and foreign students.
“Non-State higher education institutes play a vital role in expanding higher education opportunities.”
Prof. Ananda Jayawardena
At present, there is no regulatory framework for quality assurance of the non-state higher education sector. Such a mechanism would boost the conﬁdence of the public regarding the quality of study programmes offered by the non-state higher education institutes. Public conﬁdence in non-state higher education is paramount for continuous expansion of the sector. SLANSHEI could step in and explore the possibility of establishing an independent quality assurance and accreditation mechanism to ensure continual improvement of study programmes within the non-state higher education sector. These developments would create a level playing ﬁeld between the state and non-state higher education providers. There will be opportunity for both the state and non-state higher education providers to work together and share learning resources to provide a better learning experience to students.
We need to promote the expansion of higher education. This is the need of the country. The non-state higher education sector can play a major role in meeting this national need.