Private universities a good move
Sri Lanka can easily be the knowledge hub of Asia as there can be a
significant growth in the educational institutes as well as
opportunities for entrepreneurs by setting up educational institutes,
Oxford College of Business, HCBT Campus, Horizon College International
CEO/Managing Director, Upul Daranagama told the Daily News Business.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: What is the present growth in the education sector?
A: Sri Lanka can expect a significant growth in the education
sector in 05 to 10 years. Sri Lanka has an excess student population to
which the private sector can easily cater. The private sector is very
much keen on investing in these areas and there is a potential market.
Q: What can you say about the trends in business education
among young people?
Oxford College of Business CEO Upul Daranagama
A: There is a huge demand towards business related education
in Sri Lanka. The global trends are such that many developing countries
such as India, Russia and Brazil are opening to open economy.
Therefore the system of the economy has created a need for business
education. Many areas related to business are opening up as Sri Lanka
too shares these trends.
Q: What are the new courses you offer?
A: We cater to the primary, secondary and graduate level of
education at the Oxford College of Business, Horizon College
International (HCI) and
HCBT Campus. Primary and secondary education needs are based on total
personality concepts. They should excel in education while having
fitness, handling daily and global issues and culturally valued
We train children in each of these aspects. We mould their character
by providing extra-curricular activities such as sports.
They will be culturally brought up and with excellent IT and English
knowledge. In our education system, we encourage a student to acquire at
least one foreign language.
The students will be able to finish their higher education as they
possess a sound education when they get old.
Q: How does Oxford help in saving foreign exchange?
A: Since the inception of the Oxford College of Business in
2002, we have been delivering Australian masters programs, British
Government approved higher diplomas and Diplomas in Business, Human
Resources Management, travel and tourism through Association of Business
At present, we are awarding the Bachelor of Business Management
degree from Heriot-Watt University, UK.
This University has been ranked 20th in the UK league table for the
University ranking in 2010.(Guardian Ranking)
By offering internationally recognised degrees, Sri Lankan students
can save a lot of foreign exchange otherwise spent for education in
They can earn higher education qualifications at home without
spending a lot of money by visiting other countries and spending for
Sri Lankan students can study at a fraction of the cost for education
in foreign countries.
It makes a huge saving in their education and they can continue their
studies while staying with their families.
Q: What role does the education system play in the development
of the country?
A: Knowledge is one of the key resources of any country aiming
The highest level of literacy is a key factor in any country's
development. When you have knowledgeable citizens in the country, the
country gets the best opportunity to shine in the international arena to
attract foreign direct investments. It is because the workforce of the
country is highly educated and knowledgeable that managing them will be
much easier than another country of which the illiteracy rate is high.
The employers will very much like to work within such infrastructure
and therefore, many investors will come in looking for our human
The present conditions in education will set the appropriate
opportunity for the country to use the expertise knowledge on
accounting, engineering, business and Information Communication
Technology. Sri Lanka can create professionals in medicine who can work
They can render their service to the overseas nations and remit large
amount of money to Sri Lanka.
Q: What are your views on Government's decision to set up
A: This is a very good decision . This, we should have done
long time ago. My personal view is that the higher educational
opportunities should be available for all the students who pass ALs.
Most of the developed nations have a concept called 'Education for all'.
Small nations like us should concentrate on developing human
resources because that is the strength we have. We can be the education
hub of Asia in the very near future if we continue with this policy.
Q: Will you set up new branches?
A: At present we are concentrating on our Horizon College
International (HCL) and HCBT Campus at Malabe.
HCBT Campus is one of the largest private sector university campuses
set up in the past with an investment of Rs 300 million. We need to have
more students from rural areas since we have capacity for 3,000
We can facilitate not only Sri Lankan students in the campus but also
foreign students from countries such as China, Maldives and Pakistan.
We have already received a good response from local and international
students. We have also planned to work with De-monfort University, UK
for our degree programs. We have been negotiating with Edexcel, UK as
our academic partner and TAFE Australia as our vocational pathway
We are expecting to concentrate more on business, ICT, teacher
training, Engineering, hotel management, psychology areas for offering
higher education qualifications.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: Sri Lanka will be the knowledge hub of Asia in ten years
time and we expect to open two universities in Sri Lanka during the next
We need to have at least 1000 students from overseas in five years
time. With such expansion, Sri Lanka will be popular as an education
destination in Asia.
Q: How do you cater to the market in North and East?
A: We have already had some seminars in Jaffna last month and
another seminar will be held in September in Jaffna, Trincomalee and
We will apprise the students of those areas by conducting seminars,
workshops and throught paper articles. We encourage students in those
areas to come to Colombo and continue their education. We can then ease
the long prevailing tension between Colombo and Jaffna.
Q: What is your advice for young people eager to climb the
A: My advice for young people is to concentrate and focus on
what they are doing in education. They need to select suitable courses
which have both the quality and international recognition.
When they are supplied with the necessary education background, they
should experience the work culture and see whether they need further
educational qualifications to reach high in their employment. It will
help them to contribute to the country as well as reach higher positions
in the corporate ladder.
Q: How do you spend your leisure?
A: I read lot of newspapers, Magazines and watch news on
Television. I play cricket and spend time with my children during my
Q: What is your philosophy in life?
A: My philosophy is to be simple and honest and give due
respect to whom I am dealing with. I want to focus on whatever I do and
do it in a better way.
Q: What is the country you like to visit?
Q: What is the place you like to visit in Sri Lanka?