The Sri Lankan government is looking to put the country on the world map for higher education.
The government plans on giving special status to a select group of private institutions and opening up the country to international branch campuses, reported Times Higher Education (THE).
These policy changes include establishing a “free education investment zone” in Horona that will provide tax breaks for international universities setting up overseas outposts, under the condition that their academic staff will also support local universities.
However, it’s a move that would benefit international students chiefly.
Student places at these campuses would be reserved for “overseas students and non-resident Sri Lankan students who are able to pay in foreign currency”.
Sri Lanka’s government said students within Asia are the main targets; only five percent of Sri Lankan students would be offered scholarships to study there.
Other plans in the offing include increasing student places in existing institutions by 25 percent, and converting several higher education institutes into universities.
Less than 20 percent of students who qualify for university attend due to a cap on places, said THE. No additional funding will be provided for either of these policies.
There are also proposals to grant selected private, not-for-profit institutions, which do not have full degree-awarding powers, “chartered university status”.
What students should know about Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a country with a tropical climate and is located in the South Indian continent.
It currently has two universities in the THE World University Rankings 2020, including the University of Peradeniya (401-500) and the University of Colombo (1000+).
According to its Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, there are currently 15 state universities in Sri Lanka.
The prominent ones include University of Colombo, University of Peradeniya, University of Ruhuna, University of Kelaniya, University of Sri Jayawardhenapura and University of Moratuwa.
The ministry notes that in recent years, with changes to the University Act, a few institutes have been given permission to grant their own degrees, the most prominent is the government-owned Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT).
Some universities do offer scholarships to international students, including the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
Just last year, the country received a US$104 million investment from South Korea to develop its maritime universities and technical training centres.
The country also secured a US$104 million investment from South Korea to develop the technical training centres of Ocean University, in addition to promoting Korean technical education in Sri Lanka.
“Further discussions were held to enhance the Korean-Sri Lanka friendship and to provide Korean technical know-how to Sri Lankan higher education students,” said the ministry.
The island is also known by its moniker the “pearl of the Indian Ocean”, and is a famous tourist hotspot known for its diverse landscapes, including its beaches, caves and tea plantations.