Government will allow the setting-up of fee levying degree awarding private universities, an official said. Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake said on Wednesday that issues connected with this move will be sorted out in three months.
He was speaking at a lecture held under the theme “Sri Lanka to Become Global Centre of Knowledge Through Liberalisation of Education Policies” which was organized by Small & Medium Enterprise Developers, a project of Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka and Friedrich Naumann Stiftung in Sri Lanka.
Aquinas College will be one such institution that will be allowed to conduct private university degrees, said Dissanayake.
Those private universities will be regulated by a quality assurance body (QAB) which will include the University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman, Higher Education Ministry Secretary and managers of those private universities. It will comprise a total of 11 members. They will be appointed by the Minister.
However, it will be a mere formality for globally recognized universities to obtain accreditation with the QAB, said Dissananayke. Private universities which don’t meet up to QAB’s standards will have to close shop.
Since 1999 Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) has been offering private degrees in IT to local students for a fee.
“By maintaining a low profile, and with the Marxist JVP understanding the importance of IT education, we have been able to ward off protests from that quarter,” Professor Lalith Gamage of SLIIT told this reporter.
UGC will continue to regulate state run universities.
Private universities may operate under the BoI regime, enjoying concessions such as tax holidays. They may even be given state land, of between 50-100 acres, free of charge to set-up their campuses. The government in return will require an equity stake in such universities, said Dissanayake.
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