“The Government will ensure that every student who passed the Advanced Level examination will have an opportunity to get a recognised higher education. This will cut down the high unemployment level among youth and contribute to economic development,” he said.
He noted the intake for State universities would be increased by 25% for the next academic year. The Higher Education Ministry will discuss increasing the intake for the next academic year with all Vice Chancellors.
According to Gunawardana, the Government will set up 100 University Colleges by the end of 2020 with 50,000 students to be recruited. The first 100 university colleges will be set up using existing vocational colleges and similar education centres run by the State.
“We will use existing State facilities to set up university colleges, which will save money on new buildings. These university colleges will give conduct two year HND courses,” he added.
Gunawardana opined that most of the country’s vocational and technical colleges had space and facilities that were underutilised. According to Gunawardana, those resources will be upgraded and used as university colleges.
The Government will set up university colleges at regional level before 2025, he said. Gunawardana pointed out that university colleges will be set up at every Divisional Secretariat.
Those who complete a two-year HND course will get the chance to enter public universities to complete their degrees, he said. The university colleges will conduct special courses in English, information technology and software engineering which meet international standards, he added.
Gunawardena also said private degree-awarding institutions will be evaluated and those meeting criteria set out by the Government would be given ‘chartered’ status. “Those private universities that have invested more than Rs. 1 billion come under this status and the Government will constantly monitor their quality,” he said.
Every year, more than 100,000 students who complete the minimum qualification to enter public universities do not get in due to lack of space. This year more than 181,000 students who passed the Advanced Level examination qualified for entrance to a State university. However, only about 30,000 will be able to do so. (NS)