Higher education landscape in Sri Lanka changing
The higher education landscape in Sri Lanka is changing with the
increasing private sector involvement in the sector, a recent study
conducted by Human Capital Research Program of LIRNEasia has revealed.
Dr.Sugatha N.Gamage said that by 2010 there were 52 higher education
degree awarding institutions in the country.
Alternatives to the University Grant Commission (UGC) mediated public
university system have emerged and they have sufficient legitimacy and
maturity. These alternatives accounted for 36 percent of the 15,999
graduates produced in Sri Lanka in 2010/2011.
There are 253 degree programs and many degree equivalents are also
offered by these alternative institutions.
The objective of the study is to provide a base for the study of
higher education sector in the country. The public has no maps to guide
them in this rapidly emerging landscape. LIRNEasia also launched a
directory of degree programs based on this study to guide students and
other interested parties, she said.
Out of these 52 higher education institutions, 16 are public
institutions coming under the UGC purview, nine public non UGC and 27
There is one public UGC institution, one public non UGC institution
and 17 private institutions that have started enrollments but not
awarded degrees yet while there are another two private institutions
that have started programs. Accordingly there are 73 higher education
institutions in the country.
Between 2008 and 2010 graduate output has increased from 15,923 to
18,999 or 8-10 percent and the increase has come from the alternatives
to the traditional UGC system. Over 12,000 graduates have passed out
from state universities in 2010. According to the study, 73 percent of
computer science and IT graduates come from private sector institutions
and the private sector also produces 24 percent of commerce stream and
22 percent of other subject stream graduates.
The private sector accounts for only six percent of engineering
graduates while all others come from state institutions.
Dr.Gamage said that the graduate output from public institutions has
stabilised while semi-public and private output has increased. Most of
the degree programs (75 percent) are with a three-year duration, while
19 percent of the programs are four years. Degree programs offered by
private institutions cost between Rs.200,000 to over one million.
There is a positive correlation between the demand and the cost and
in 2010 the output of over Rs one million costing degree programs were
887, while the output of programs costing 200,000-500,000 was 395. Some
of the high cost degree programs offered by foreign university
affiliated institutes include a study period in the foreign country.
Degree programs for British qualifications lead the market and
Australian qualifications follow.