The Open University of Sri Lanka [OUSL] was established on June 22 1980, which gives it almost 31 years of excellence as an education provider. Established under the Universities Act No.16 of 1978, the main intention of setting up the OUSL was to provide access to higher educational opportunities to everyone without any restrictions.
Other government established universities of Sri Lanka, usually have certain restrictions such as age, G.C.E. A/L Z-score etc as eligibility criteria for an internal degree, but the OUSL has become Sri Lanka's number one education solutions provider because these criteria do not hinder a person to get a degree or any other professional qualification.
The vision of OUSL is 'to be the premier Open and Distance Learning institution in Asia through excellence, efficiency and equity in lifelong learning'. What makes the OUSL unique is the mode of delivery of education. The Open Distance Learning [ODL] methodology has been one of the most successful techniques followed by many renowned universities such as the Indira Gandhi University in India, Open University of Bangladesh etc.
ODL method uses a strategy that designs a learning environment which does not necessitate a student to be present at the university premises in order to access educational material, and therefore is more cost effective and less time consuming.
In terms of student satisfaction, the ODL is recognized as one of the most popular methods worldwide. ODL mechanism has enabled students from every corner of the country to access education. There is also no restriction on how many students can get a degree of their choice because there are no restrictions on the facilities which usually hinder other universities such as classroom or residential facilities for students.
Professor Upali Vidanapathirana, the Vice-Chancellor of the OUSL explained how ODL works at the Open University. The separation of the teacher and the student is compensated with ample support of online resources such as 'virtual classroom' and print material. At the commencement of any education programme, the students are issued with the necessary educational material. However, the lecturer support is not entirely absent. There are monthly sessions termed as 'Day Schools' that are used to help students who have difficulties in comprehending the theories etc. Other universities normally would employ at least 40 lecture hours whereas the OUSL would use 8 hours which breaks down into 4 lecture sessions for an entire course.
There are four faculties currently in operation at OUSL offering more than 50 courses ranging from Certificate Level to Postgraduate Level. The faculties include Faculty of Education, Faculty of Engineering Technology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Faculty of Natural Science. There is also the Postgraduate Institute of English and Environmental Studies Unit.
The main university is located in serene surroundings in Nawala and there are educational centres available regionally. The students can enjoy state-of-the-art laboratories, a comprehensive library and spacious lecture rooms etc. The environment of OUSL promotes active learning rather than stagnated methods in memorizing lecture based theories. Consequently students are better educated and quick in using what they learn in a practical manner.
For the last 31 years OUSL has staunchly upheld the universal right to education. It helped the students to get an education qualification when the alternative options for higher education have become a luxury in Sri Lanka. Its mission 'to enhance access to high quality, affordable and relevant education through Open Distance Education and ensure life-long learning opportunities to face challenges in a knowledge society' has indeed made a remarkable difference for the betterment in Sri Lankan society.
For more information please visit http://www.ou.ac.lk/ or mail to The Open University of Sri Lanka, P.O. Box 21, Nawala, Nugegoda. Telephone: 0112881000.