“Highlights of the Chancellor’s address was the rapid development of the university, recognition of some of the Technology degree programmes by the IESL for Affiliate Engineer Member status and the need to conform to the standards expected by the upcoming Engineering Council for Engineering Practitioners.”
I am pleased to be able to present the Chancellor’s address for the 5th Annual Convocation ceremony of the University of Vocational Technology (UNIVOTEC) which is a unique university in Sri Lanka, established by Act of Parliament No 31 of 2008 to cater to the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector to provide a pathway to degree level higher education for those with vocational qualifications through the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and also with mid-level Technological qualifications through lateral entry where there is scope to attract more people to study it.
From the inception, there were concerns as to why the university is called Vocational and Technological
From the very inception, as the Secretary of the Ministry I had to be persuasive in formulating the proposal, as the minister in charge of the subject at that time was not favourable in the establishment of such a university or any university. However, the then minister (who has again been returned to Parliament), within a short time was fully appreciative of the need of such a university and is now a great supporter of same. From the inception, there were concerns as to why the university is called Vocational and Technological. The minister in question at that time did well to convince Parliament that the university was meant for those who wanted to pursue the vocational route ie NVQ and also for the technical personnel with mid-level technological qualifications through lateral entry. At this stage I wish to remind those who still have concerns, that the world’s leading higher education institutes are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) etc. Hence, standing firm on principles and convictions have paved the way for the development of this university as almost all the graduates are gainfully employed and much sought after.
The officers and staff of the university should continue to take firm and preserve the concept, after all we had four ministers in charge of higher Education with diverse opinions in the past. Above all the graduates passing out today has the biggest responsibility through industry interaction to display the high quality the industry demands and to enable the university to develop further. It is very encouraging to hear of the high calibre academic staff who are being attracted to
This reminds of my days at the University of Moratuwa which was initially run by visiting staff and in my department to start with I was the only PhD holder. With the passing of time the department of Civil Engineering now has about 35 PhD holders, nearly 20 Professors, almost all senior staff being Chartered Civil Engineers and could be classed as one of the strongest academic engineering departments in South Asia. The UNIVOTEC should strive to continue to develop to reach
This has been a great achievement, perhaps the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, that the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka (IESL) has granted a conditional Accreditation for the three degree programmes namely Building Services Technology, Manufacturing Technology and Mechatronics Technology
During the establishment of the UNIVOTEC, “needs studies” have indicated that the industry requires competent Engineering Technologists with a degree and if necessary with subsequent specialization in a particular field of a minimum one year post graduate qualification. It should be realized that for academic staff recruitment in universities and / or for research, academic requirements could be achieved through an additional postgraduate degree in the relevant field or with professional qualifications. During the past, the university has been able to develop 13 degree programmes. Some of these programmes have been subject to evaluation by the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL), which is the authorised Professional Body for Accreditation for Washington Accord and Sydney Accord status. This was done with both expatriate and local experts, who have indicated that the degrees which were evaluated would be eligible subject to certain conditions, to be considered for Affiliate Engineer member status as indicated in the IESL website under the list of Accredited Engineering Degree Programmes under the Sydney Accord as on October 6, 2017.
This has been a great achievement, perhaps the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, that the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka (IESL) has granted a conditional Accreditation for the three degree programmes namely Building Services Technology, Manufacturing Technology and Mechatronics Technology. As the Chancellor and a Past President of the Institution it gives me great joy to see this achievement of the university. While the industry would be largely satisfied with this category of members, for an academic career or research or very senior positions in industry, with a post graduate degree in the relevant field they could qualify and rise up to being a Chartered Engineer. With the establishment probably in a few weeks time of the “Engineering Council” enacted by Parliament in March 2017 after much deliberations for many years at different levels and fora, the Council is mandated to maintain standards of all Engineering Practitioners from Certificate level qualified Technicians to Engineering Diplomates right upto Chartered Engineers. This Council being a similar body to the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), would have to ensure standards from the very start to achieve its objectives.
The members of the academic staff of the university should also try to pursue an academic route in the Institution to obtain these
However, it is imperative that the present Graduates perform in the industry upholding the standards and competence expected, while the Academic Staff and the Officers of the University ensure that the concerns expressed and conditions imposed by the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka are adequately adhered to and no deviations occur.
At this stage I would like to stress that the present students, staff and graduates passing out and even decision makers not make comparisons with graduates of other conventional engineering faculties or universities in the country as the concept and objectives are different. The industry makes their assessment by competence, adaptability and attitude of the employees, There was a time when diplomates passing out with the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) from the then TTI in Katunayake were in greater demand than engineering graduates! Since serving the nation for national development should be the first aim, followed by personal development, be pleased with your chosen career and motivate yourselves both as staff of the university and graduates passing out to develop further from what you have achieved thus far.