Cost of education | Daily News


Cost of education

What is important in knowledge is not quantity, but quality. It is important to know what is significant, what is less so, and what is trivial. – Leo Tolstoy

Sri Lanka has a limited intake to state universities. Hence a majority of parents send their children to non-state higher education institutes. The development of a market economy has greatly affected the structural reform of education. One result is the establishment of non-state higher educational institutes.

In the non-state sector some institutes have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) with foreign universities. Some foreign universities engage their agents or consultants in Sri Lanka in sending the children to foreign universities.

While obtaining the services of state sector academics and one time audit of foreign university many of the non-state institutes engage in providing higher education under the recognition obtained from UGC through the listing of the respective university in International Handbook of Universities published by International Association of Universities or in Commonwealth Universities Yearbook published by Association of Commonwealth Universities. These international publications have their own criteria in evaluating universities. This does not guarantee the quality of the provision of the local higher education by the local non-state institute.

Most of the non-state institutes are operating for merely commercial purpose except very few established for better student outcome in Sri Lanka. How are non-state institutes then nurture respect and understanding through such an initiative?

University is a place to nurture mutual respect. Not all the institutes are better places for learning. Many of the non-state initiatives lack internal quality assurance units and systems and they are merely set up for generating income. There is no student feedback system to develop the student-oriented learning the culture and there is no either recreational facility for students, no libraries in the local institutes or study centres especially in Northern and Eastern provinces.

Global demand for higher education

By 2025, the projected global demand for higher education could reach 263 million students, which is an increase from a little less than 100 million students in 2000 (Karaim, 2011, p. 551). This could represent an increase of 163 million students in 25 years (Karaim, 2011). As the demand for quality education increases, there is a growing demand for quality assurance (QA) for international universities where there is increased mobility of students, faculty, programmes, and higher education institutions in global networks (Hou, 2012; Varonism, 2014). Quality assurance can be a driver for institutions to achieve excellence in higher education. However, ensuring that the quality of educational programmes meets local and international standards simultaneously has become a great challenge in many countries (OECD & World Bank, 2007). In such a circumstances setting up of local institutes need proper quality assurance mechanism rather offering degree programmes in an unorganised manner.

Most of the non-state initiatives are for a commercial purpose and there is no student-centred learning atmosphere at all. Many of the students depend on their opinion of the colleagues and peers when entering such institutes. Once they complete their degrees local students are not getting provisional certificates, transcripts or even the degree certificate on time. Rather many of the non-state local institutes provide a course completion letter which of low quality. Most of the students who complete their degree programmes through study centres in Northern, Eastern provinces face a very tragic situation. Many of the non-state higher education arrangements are merely centres in Northeastern provinces where student outcome of such study centres are questionable to date even though their university is a listed university in the International Handbook of Universities and Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). There is no regulatory mechanism in Sri Lanka in such non-state initiatives.

Higher education in South Asian region

In contrary to the Sri Lankan initiatives India has a holistic view of the higher education including its administration. Indian universities are at the forefront of new research initiatives, and at the same time, face enormous challenges in meeting the growing demand for higher education among the youth population, having a large student community and a huge network of state and non-state universities. Therefore the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is committed to developing programmes within the region that meet the needs of the region. This collaboration will enable the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) to draw more closely on the experience and expertise of the ACU. Meanwhile, the AIU will help the ACU better represent and advocate for its growing numbers of member institutions in India.

They are providing joint funded proposal to establish a leadership training and capacity-building programme for senior administrators in Indian universities in meeting the growing demand for higher education among the youth population. India is an emerging economy with a population of 1.3 billion – almost half of the population of the Commonwealth. Over 50% of India's population, or around 600 million, is under 25 years; and within the next five years, India will have the largest Tertiary-age population in the world.

We need to understand that an educated young person is a person who is capable of protecting him or herself and who is a potential contributor to the process of building peace. Is it possible to produce such a personality through commercializing business entities which do not think about student recreational facilities, proper governance, financial viability, proper maintenance of ethics and code of practice in human resources? Many of the Sri Lankan parents do not verify properly about such business entities they just want their children to follow any programme no matter whatever the outcome of the programme.

Training and capacity building of state and non-state administration is essential in order to address these emerging needs. Further, a common framework for a quality assurance in higher education in Sri Lanka is essential in order to address the issues in the state and non-state sector. 

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There is 1 Comment

H.E needs to use executive powers to nationalize SAITM. Any fool can see the issue is blocked at academic level. Solution is not political ministerial bungling which only delays students. Neither is it religious fanatical crack going to nirvana donating students precious money. Since govt. UGC approved course, govt. judiciary is accountable to compel SLMC registration for MBBS with 2 year internship in 4 branches. SAITM students must be put into state Moratuwa or other with access to teaching hospitals not obsessed with money & scams. Even Dr. Neville's declared intention about caring primarily for students has been found to be defective and deceitful. We are simply not ready to handle money outside AR and FR of govt. regulations found in health ministry. Enough is enough. SAITM is academic issue and when set right will not and cannot be obstructed by GMOA. Politics can start anew with SLMC. Tail off SAITM students with hospital access.

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