Restructuring the Higher Education Sector of Sri Lanka :: Ministry of Higher Education – Sri Lanka

  • Written by wes
  • June 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm
  • Award Category : Government Sector Initiative :: Best Government Sector Initiative in Education

    Details of the Applicant:

    Name: Sunil Jayantha Nawarathna
    Organization: Ministry of Higher Education – Sri Lanka
    Organization Website:
    Address: 18 Ward Place Colombo 07, Western Province. 00700
    Country: Sri Lanka

    Details of Agency implementing the Project/Initiative

    Name of the Organization : Ministry of Higher Education
    Address: 8 Ward Place Colombo 07, Western Province. 00700
    Country: Srilanka
    Name of the Head of Organization: Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawarathna
    Project Website:

    Details of the Project/Programme/Initiative:

    Brief  description:

    Deviate from the traditional thinking way about the Higher Education sector in Sri Lanka, this programme leads the sector to move towards the global boundaries with a new vision as “To be the most cost effective education hub in Asia”. More importantly, the programme will not make any extra burden to the treasury for financing but to change the mind set of each and every stakeholder in order to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the system with new strategic planning and management system. To measure the targeted performance of the sector new set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been introduced.

    Reasons for starting the Programme/Project/Initiative:

    There are number of issues prevailing in the Higher Education sector of the country. The enrollment rate of qualified students to university is dominant at a level of 16% while there is a huge demand to expand the access for Higher Education. The quality and relevance of the degree which leads to a lower level of employability in some academic streams is another big issue. Also, the skills and attitudes of students are not at a required level in terms of the private sector employers and industries. Another issue is that the graduate output is not any way targeted to the global as well as modern markets. The global rank of each university when measured by a global scale is low. The quality and the capacity of the academics need to improve and research & development in universities also need to be improved.

    Objective of the Programme/Project/Initiative:

    The main objectives of the programme for restructuring the higher education sector of Sri lanka is intertwined with the reasons for starting the programme mentioned above. One of the main objectives is to enhance the quality of the higher education through institutionalizing nor,s for the higher education sector. Further, in line with the process changes, the programme aims to enhance the quality of the graduates, its output. This objective of increasing the employability of graduates is predominant in achieving quality improvements. Another objective to restructure the programme relates to the concept of creating “world class” universities, six of the fifteen state universities being nominated for this concept. Finally, student satisfaction is of vital importance in bringing about structural changes to create a new educational framework that will provide liberal thinking, broad dialogue and opportunities for entertainment instead of the present system that confines the undergraduate to lectures, assignments and exams examinations andannexaminations

    Target Group: Students involve higher education

    Geographical Reach within India : NA

    Geographical Reach outside India: Island-wide all state universities and HEIs

    Date from which the project became operational: 01/01/2011

    Is the Project still operational?

    Highlight 10 innovations of the Project/Programme/Initiative:

    1. The concept of the “world class universities” with six out of fifteen state universities being selected and allocated a sum of Sri Lankan Rs. 600 million under this concept to improve world ranking
    2. 100 scholarship annual programme for foreign students covering 41 countries
    3. “Kavitha Talent” project – a TV Programme of two hours – to cover a wide array of skills and talents from artistic to sports
    4. The project to develop the leadership and positive attitudes of all the new entrants to state unievrsities
    5. Pre-orientation Programme (POP) for new university entrants to develop their skills of English and IT
    6. Introduce a student loan scheme to purchase a Laptop Computer to promote the IT culture in the universities
    7. Introduce a Quality Assurance system for each programme, covering the entire higher education sector, with the aim of providing assurance to government and the public at large that Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) are delivering education services in line with agreed quality criteria and standards
    8.Introduce the Sri Lanka Qualification Framework (SLQF) which will cover both the university and the alternative higher education sectors, public and private HEIs, and classify the HEIs according to the knowledge and skill levels and types of awards offered by the various institutions. On this basis, the SLQF will establish processes for horizontal and vertical mobility between different types of HEIs, including protocols for credit transfer and parallel entry
    9. Enhance the employability of graduates by offering internationally recognized and market oriented degree programmes required by local and global market, enhancing graduate knowledge, skills and capabilities, and assuring the quality of degree programmes
    10. Creating professional graduates by introducing new professional courses into the university system and creating enterprising graduates through entrepreneurship development

    Highlight 5 achievents of the Programme/Project/Initiative:

    1. The world rank of selected universities has been upgraded by substantial numbers with University of Colombo moving up 738 places from 2185 in the Webometrics July 2010 to 1447 in January 2012, University of Peradeniya up by 1096 places from 3005 in July 2010 to 1909 in January 2012, University of Kelaniya moving up 1783 places from 6217 in July 2010 to 4434 in January 2012 and University of Sri Jayawardenapura moving 2252 places up from 5330 in July 2010 to 3078 in January 2012
    2. “Kavita Talent” project which covers a wide array of skills and Talents from artistic to sports has excelled in promoting talents of students, while enhancing the imaginative capacities
    3. The project to develop the leadership and positive attitudes of new entrants in creating the “Universal Young Adult” while increasing the students’ psychological and social maturity
    4. The Pre-orientation Programme aided in enhancing the English and IT skills of new entrants to universities with a 77% participation rate in 2011 totaling 15,531 students
    5. A substantial increase in the employability of graduates were achieved both university wise and stream wise covering Medicine, Engineering, Science, Management and Arts

    Highlight 5 key challenges faced while implementing the Project/Programme/Initiative and how they were overcome?

    1. The negative attitude of the general public towards the leadership and positive attitudes programme was a major challenge faced while implementing but, with the commencement of the programme, the Ministry was able to bring up the favourable attitude to 88%
    2. Facilitating online service for 15,000 students for the Pre-orientation Programme was a challenge which was overcome by the extensive commitment of NODES staff and through collaborations with the Ministry of Education
    3. Organizing a massive event covering an array of talents of state higher education sector with a limited capacity of the related division of the Ministry was a key challenge of the Kavitha Talent Programme. This was overcome by delegating the organizing to universities under the Ministry
    4. Awareness campaign for the 100 Annual Scholarship Programme covering 41 countries within a very limited period of time was a challenge. However, it was successfully launched with the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the relevant embassies

    List 5 points on how the Project/Programme/Initiative can serve as a model that can be replicated or adapted by others?:

    1. All these programmes are globally adoptable
    2. This new model proactively accept the responsibility towards their own graduates
    3. This programme gives the SMART objectives all higher education leaders and institutes
    4. This programme enforce the effectiveness and efficiency of the resource management and achieving results
    5. This programme introduced the strategic management concept to the HEIs

    List 5 points to elaborate on the scalability of the Project/Programme/Initiative:

    1. National level programme with HE Sector Strategic Plan
    2. Sectoral level plans – UGC/SLIATE/Professional Sector/Non-state sector
    3. Institutional plan with goals and SMART objectives
    4. Faculty level plans
    5. Quarterly review mechanism

    Document publishing Url:,;