Mother Sri Lanka is a movement that has always worked on guiding the future generation of Sri Lankans to become better individuals who can contribute to the development of this country. Today’s students who are just entering into O/L and A/L streams and their parents are finding it extremely difficult to decide on the correct higher education path due to lack of information in terms of new trends as well as an overload of information in some cases.
The days where doing arts, science or commerce and aiming to enter the state university system alone are gone. The options available today, in terms of higher education paths and institutes both in state and non-state sectors are vast.
With the objective of helping the parents and the students faced with this most crucial career decision of their life, Mother Sri Lanka (MSL) organised a discussion forum to discuss and answer the pertinent questions with respect to higher education options. This forum titled ‘How to select a university for my child?’ is the first of a series of talks that MSL hoel under the theme Mother Sri Lanka Future Forum. The Future Forum is based on educating the public on topics that affect their personal lives and will be continued in the future with similar equally important topics.
The first forum on higher education was held with a very distinguished panel of experts from both state and non-state sectors, namely UGC Vice Chairman Prof. P.S.M. Gunartane, University of Moratuwa Vice Chancellor Prof. Ananda Jayawardena, SLIIT Chairman Prof. Lakshman Ratnayake, Horizon Group Chairman Upul Daranagama, APPIT CEO Dr. Athula Pitigala Arachchi and Aspirations Education Chairman Ajith Abeysekera.
The discussion was moderated by Mother Sri Lanka Founder/Chairperson Dr. Janaki Kuruppu. The event was successfully held at the BMICH recently with the participation of over 150 students and parents partnered by Horizon Group, Sampath Bank, APIIT, SLIIT and Litro as sponsors.
The panellists were first asked about the different types of degree programmes that are available such as thee-year vs. Four-year programmes, programmes to be completed 100 percent in Sri Lanka, vs. programmes to be done part in Sri Lanka and part overseas and programmes to be completed 100 percent overseas. It was advised that the decision as to whether your child should have an overseas education component will completely depend on the financial status of the parents and the maturity of the child.
Further, whether attending classes are done here or overseas the quality and standards of the programmes are the same. However, the quality and the maturity of the graduate will be different since the overseas experience makes them more confident graduates.
With respect to entering state universities (SUs), it was told that there are almost 75-100 programmes being offered and that a candidate should put all programmes willing to consider in the application, since if you request only three or four programmes and you don’t get enough marks for all four, then you can’t later ask for the next available programme. With respect to the cost of different programmes, it was revealed that on average, the four-year degree programme in a non-state university (NSU) in Sri Lanka will cost from Rs.150,000-450,000 per annum.
The engineering or medicine programmes will cost much higher around Rs.500,000 per annum and a 100 [percent overseas programme will cost at least four times more. It was also mentioned that the UGC is trying to propose to the banks to offer special loan schemes given in the name of the child with the parents as guarantors. This is like in almost all other countries and gives an opportunity for the child to take responsibility and they can start paying once they start working.
A significant portion of the discussion focused on how to compare one institution with another and about accreditation systems and the government’s role for the standards maintained at the private institutes.
The participants were informed that currently there is no accreditation system done by the UGC for local NSUs but a system is being formulated and it will be available to the public soon. The list published by the UGC has recognized some private institutions offering local degrees but that has only 16 up to now. For foreign universities, since the UGC cannot rate any of them, the best method is to check the Commonwealth universities list and many such listings (Times List, etc.,) and many websites that are readily available to see if the university is recognized.