Where non-state higher education errs | Daily News


Where non-state higher education errs

Finding employment is the intention of the majority of the graduates in Sri Lanka. Very few Non-State Higher Education providers are successful in providing student centred learning. There is limited access to state universities and therefore, students tend to access Non-State Higher Education providers in affiliation with foreign universities. However, many of the Non-State Higher education providers charge unreasonable amounts of fees as course fees from students which will ultimately end up similar to a traditional tuition provider. There are no recreational facilities and no library facilities provided for students in many of the Non-State Institutes.

Recognition of foreign universities

Some of the Foreign Universities are listed in the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook published by the Association of Commonwealth Universities and International Handbook of Universities. The University Grants Commission recognizes foreign universities based on the listing in the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook and International Handbook of Universities as directed by the circular issued by the Ministry of Public Administration (16/92 dated March 13, 1992).

Albert Einstein once stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world”.

This component of imagination is far beyond among today’s graduates who just obtain the paper qualification from, small private higher education provider who maintains a profit-making endeavour with foreign universities. Many of these students lack soft skills, competence and are unable to even write a letter though they have done English as a subject as per their transcripts/ academic records. Many such cases have been reported in Non-State Institutes operate in Northern, Eastern province and maintaining branches in the Western province as Higher Education providers. It’s a major crime on student’s life that does not have university exposure.

Lack of career guidance

There is no proper regulatory mechanism on Non-State Higher Education providers. There is no career guidance or internal quality assurance mechanism operating properly in many of Non-State Higher Education Institutes. In such a situation where do our students go? This question has never been raised even in Parliament.

Degree Certificates of the students are not provided on time in most of the Non-State Institutes. Students are waiting for years to obtain the Degree Certificate. Most of the cases were reported pertaining to Ambiga Institute and many other private Higher Education providers operating their businesses in Batticaloa, Jaffna and Colombo. These institutes are providing degrees of Madurai Kamaraj University and Alagappa University in India where many students have not provided degree certificates, provisional certificates or transcripts / academic records on time. Therefore, students are not in a position to go for an employment. In most of the situations, they produce a letter provided by the respective Non-State institute without producing proper academic records by the affiliated university.

Employers in Sri Lanka

Employers in Sri Lanka need to be concerned with the academic records produced by the applicants of Non-State Higher Education providers. Every applicant needs to have the Degree Certificate, Provisional Certificate, transcript of academic records or either one of those records. Without having such records simply by producing the letter given by UGC recognizing merely the university does not say anything pertaining to the authenticity of the degree obtained.

However, many of the students have the practice of obtaining a letter from the respective institute mentioning the course completion instead of obtaining their degree certificates, provisional certificate, transcript of academic records.

Recognition of the respective University by the University Grants Commission based on the listing of Commonwealth Universities Yearbook and International Handbook of Universities is not sufficient to verify the ability of the graduate. Every employer needs to check the authenticity of the degree certificate possessed by the student with the respective university.

Employ “able graduates”

Recently there were series of interviews held pertaining to Development Officers where many of the students are from Non-State Higher Educational Institutes. In such instances, a comprehensive programme is needed to train them before employing them as front office managers or development officers who frequently need to liaise properly with the public. On the other hand, state graduates have a good competition. However, for the employer, it’s a matter of quality.

Many of the Ministries, State and Non-State organisations before sending their employees to foreign universities do not verify the recognition of the University from the University Grants Commission. However, when they return and reposition in their employment, they try to verify the recognition from the University Grants Commission, whereas the respective employee faces many difficulties especially when the University is not listed in the Commonwealth Universities Year Book and International Handbook of Universities. This was reported in the cases of Tri-Forces in Sri Lanka as in many of the instances Military Academies were reported as not listed in the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook and International Handbook of Universities. Therefore, it is advisable to verify the recognition of the Foreign University or Higher Educational Institution from the University Grants Commission before sending employees through scholarships for higher studies.

Institute of Engineers Sri Lank does not recognize some foreign universities. Therefore, students of Liverpool John Moores University after obtaining their graduation and recognition letters regarding respective University from University Grants Commission, used to prepare identity cards by themselves mentioning the name of the University Grants Commission to identify them as Civil Engineers without obtaining any approval from the Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka which is a wrongful act.

Further, the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Sri Lanka has issued letters to one of the Embassy of State of Qatar in Sri Lanka mentioning that they have registered under the University Grants Commission since inception.

Some of the Non-State Higher Education providers (Local) have obtained letters from the Department of Education, Western Province to promote Bachelor of Education Degree Programme conducted by Lincoln University among the teachers in Sri Lanka.

Memorandum of Understandings

By citing “reconciliation” some of the academia is in the process of signing Memorandums of Understanding with Foreign Tamil Non-State higher education providers where there is no international recognition nor such affiliated entities. Further, those foreign entities are catering to the requirements of Tamil Diaspora which are not beneficial to the Higher Education in Sri Lanka.

Public and employers hereby need to be vigilant about such malpractices of such Non- State Higher educational institutes and public involvement in such activities.

The necessity of Reviewing and monitoring of Non-state Higher Education providers

In the UK Higher Education Review takes place with the involvement of Quality Assurance and Accreditation (QAA). There are currently three versions of this review method.

• Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers)

• Higher Education Review (Embedded Colleges)

• Higher Education Review (Foreign Providers)

Providers seeking to sponsor migrant students are subject to educational oversight by QAA and must be reviewed on a regular basis using one of these review methods. Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) is also the method by which applicants seeking specific course designation are reviewed.

Further, education about educational oversight and specific course designation is available on the relevant Government websites in the United Kingdom.

Further, expediting the establishment of National Quality assurance Council to involve independent review and monitoring of Non-State Higher Education providers is a timely requirement.


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