President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who met University Vice-chancellors and officials of the University Grants Commission (UGC) said the present university study course should be updated in line with local and international job-market demands.
At the meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday, he said Sri Lanka possesses an educated, technology-savvy labour force capable enough to help move Sri Lanka towards development.
The President said employment generation focussed on Tourism, Cultivation and Plantations could jump-start the economy.
However, he said despite the number of job vacancies in the fields of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing and Information Technology, the university system had failed to address this matter over the years.
The President said it was absolutely necessary to consider these matters when formulating policies connected to tertiary education and added that the addition of Information Technology and as a subject for Arts degrees would pave the way for an expedited development process within the next three years.
“University study course should serve the job market. Political pressure and other interference should be ignored because we can never compromise our nation. Take the right decisions to make this country strong again,” the President told the Vice Chancellors.
He said it was important to have a national education policy so that no future government could deviate from it and that for this purpose if necessary he was even prepared to hold a referendum.
“Universities should have the right to select students in accordance with the course content they offer. Building new universities and addressing issues pertaining to other facilities is the responsibility of the UGC. While the Education Ministry can use premises such as the BMICH for student guidance programmes in connection with the newly implemented courses,” the President said.
He requested the UGC to relax some of the regulations imposed on law students at the Kotelawala Defence University and highlighted the need for the UGC to oversee the entire education system without confining itself to the administration of universities.
The President said it was appropriate to apply resources into research and technological equipment as it would lead to a more qualitative education framework and advised the officials present to introduce faster internet technology as current university students requireed speedy access to information for their research and experiments.
Higher Education Minister Bandula Gunawardana, Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundara, Presidential adviser Lalith Weeratunga, Higher Education Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake, UGC Chairman Professor Sampath Amaratunga and Vice-Chancellors of all the universities were present at the discussions.