Daycare centres in Universities for young
University intake doubled in the past few years
"During the past nine years, especially since 2010, the university
system in the country has developed remarkably. Online programs have
been introduced in Universities targeting the farmer community in the
country. They can go from basic level to Degree level. It is intended to
improve the agriculture sector by improving the knowledge of farmers.
In the West, courses are conducted targeting those in various sectors
such as agriculture and industrial sectors. Everyone will be given equal
opportunity to improve their knowledge", University Grants Commission (UGC)
Chairperson Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama said in an interview with
the Sunday Observer.
UGC Chairperson Prof. Kshanika Hirumburegama
A pension scheme which has been implemented for academic and
non-academic staff of universities will be strengthened from next year.
A health insurance scheme will also be introduced from February next
year. The proposed insurance scheme is in the final stage. The circular
will be sent to universities soon, she said.
"I am confident that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will strictly
implement law and order and take strict measures to reduce corruption
during his third term as he promised. He promised to eliminate
terrorism, he did so and as promised he has implemented major
infrastructure and livelihood programs across the country in a short
time", she said.
In a developing country corruption is unavoidable and can be
minimised when the country achieves its development goals, Professor Ms.
Those who talk of corruption forget that it occurs within and around
them. Not performing duties at work is also a form of corruption.
"Knowledge is the backbone of a country. There are only 12 percent in
higher education in Sri Lanka and this percentage should be increased.
Everyone in the country should be given opportunities for higher
education", she said.
"Forty two new Degree programs which are suitable for the current job
market have been introduced in Universities between 2004 to 2014. There
is a severe shortage of translators in the country.
Translation studies have also been introduced by three universities.
Many postgraduate courses suitable to the contemporary era and online
courses have also been introduced especially for students who reside
away from Universities", Professor Hirimburegama said.
Non-Academic staff will also be sent for short- term training courses
abroad for exposure to international universities. The junior and senior
scale staff will be entitled to follow these courses, she said.
We are also planning to establish daycare centres in Universities for
young mothers so that the children are taken care of while they work.
This would increase efficiency", she said.
Q: Can you tell us about the connection between political
stability and the development of the country?
A: A country cannot achieve development goals without
political stability. Political stability and development are
inter-connected. For over 30 years development had dropped due to
political instability. This is a well-known fact.
Now peace has been restored and the country is moving towards
prosperity. Due to this development is taking place rapidly. Political
stability is the prime factor for development. Now Sri Lanka is turning
into a fast developing country in the region where tourism and foreign
investment are improving significantly.
Q: Can you tell us the importance of new investment specially
foreign investment in the country's development process?
A: Political stability is vital to attract more investors
specially foreign investors. A country cannot achieve its development
goals alone without foreign investment. Even the developed countries
have foreign investments. So, foreign investment is crucial for
country's development. Of, course there can be limits.
No investor will come forward to invest in a country where there is
no political stability. When bombs are blasted here and there who will
go to that country to invest. There are certain countries at present
where investors are not keen to make investments.
Q: Are you contended with the development taking place in the
A: Of course, the Government has implemented a large number of
infrastructure, livelihood development projects across the country
including the North and the East. Even a villager will know about the
development projects progressing across the country.
Implementation of law and order takes prominence among his promises
for the third term.
When there is law and order, corruption can be minimised. People in
the rural areas are clever to believe a performer than mere talkers!.
They cannot be cheated.
Livelihood development projects should also be implemented in line
with infrastructure development.
The University system received sufficient funds after 2009.
A significant amount of money has also been allocated to the
University sector in the 2015 budget. Young academics will receive the
money to commence research. This was not available during our time.
Q: What kind of mechanism is crucial to expedite development?
A: Knowledge is the main source. Everyone must be educated. We
have a high literacy rate but only 12 percent are in higher education.
This percentage should be increased. The UGC is working towards
achieving this goal.
Q: Can you tell us about the increase of intake of students to
Universities within the concluded 10 years?
A: In 2005 only 14,850 students were admitted to state
universities that function under the UGC. The intake was increased to
26,000 in 2013.
Due to availability of funds the UGC has initiated many projects
including technology and knowledge transfer to the rural sector. Their
income has increased with knowledge based careers. Education is the only
means for a person to improve his quality of life. It is my
responsibility and duty as the Chairperson of UGC to give the correct
picture of the university system to the public.
There were 13 Universities in 2004 under the UGC. Now the number has
increased to 15. Apart from these universities there are Buddhasravaka
Bhikshu University, Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) that are
functioning as higher education providers. Vocational University
functions under the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational
Training. In addition Ocean University also provide higher education
facility to a large number of students. Within the concluded nine years
many Universities were developed in the country.
Q: Can you tell us about the assistance granted by the UGC for
A: The UGC has given funds to conduct research in the
universities. Rs. 75 million was allocated for research last year. Rs.
81 million was given for innovation. Rupees 108 million has been given
for postgraduate programs of academics. The UGC has also given funds for
short term trainings, to present their research findings.
Q: Compared to the Universities in the region what is the
present state of Sri Lankan Universities?
A: Sri Lankan University academics are highly qualified in
line with the academics in the developed countries. They are on par or
above with respect to knowledge and skills. This is especially so in
Medicine, Engineering and the Sciences.
Q: What are the goals you target to achieve in the higher
education sector by 2020?
A: By 2020 the UGC plans to admit 100,000 students to
Universities. Universities should be developed in the manner to conduct
courses whatever the stream the student want to follow. Now 12 percent
is given admission to universities. It will be increased to 40 percent
as in developed countries. I am confident that this goal can be
List of number of students admitted to Universities from 2000 to 2013
Year Academic Year Number selected
2000: 2001/2002 : 12,132
2001: 2002/2003 : 12,654
2002: 2002/2003 (A) : 13,036
2003: 2003/2004 : 14,260
2004: 2004/2005 : 14,850
2005: 2005/2006 : 17,287
2006: 2006/2007 : 17,248
2007: 2007/2008 : 20,069
2008: 2008/2009 : 20,846
2009: 2009/2010 : 21,547
2010: 2010/2011 : 22,016
2011: 2011/2012 : 28,908
2012: 2012/2013: 24,198
2013: 2013/2014 : 26,000