Business Times

Only ‘privileged’ 20,000 students enter national universities

By Quintus Perera

BADULLA – Only a ‘privileged’ 20,000 students enter national universities every year while another 100,000 who qualify are left behind. Out of the 20,000 who entered the universities around 5,000 of the passed-out graduates would be left without jobs annually, according to Treasury and Finance Secretary Dr P.B. Jayasundera.

He was making the keynote address at the first Convocation of the Uva Wellassa University (UWU), Badulla held last week at the University Auditorium presided over by the Chancellor of the University, Ven Dr Aluthwewe Soratha Nayake Thero. 148 Graduates who passed out last year were awarded their Conferment of Degrees at this convocation.

Dr Jayasundera noted that, “I must mention that only about 20,000 privileged students in this country per year are in the universities and a fourth of such graduates do not find immediate employment.” He said that the graduates who passed out of the UWU are exceptional who get employment almost immediately after passing out.

The UWU based on modern educational concepts came up in 2005 but was different from the traditional university system. It is primarily aimed at the employability of graduates, is results oriented and has proved to be a tremendous success.

The special bachelor degree courses are in Animal Science, Science in Export Agriculture, Entrepreneurial Agriculture, Business Management in Entrepreneurship and Management, Computer Science and Technology, Food Engineering and Bioprocess Technology and Material Science and Technology.

The Treasury Secretary empathised with the majority of young children who do not enter universities at all and said that those who get into foreign universities or professional educational establishments eventually get jobs in the global market even without degrees. He said many of them either engage in sub-optional jobs or find it difficult to get suitable jobs after finishing their studies. He said that these unpleasant and diverse outcomes would be good material for them to think objectively to reform the educational system.

He narrated three real life stories to illustrate that university education is not essential to do well in business and said that a college dropout with only Ordinary Level excelled in poultry farming to claim a third of the poultry business in Sri Lanka

As if suggesting an imbalance in the educational system in the country, Dr Jayasundera said that almost an equal amount of what is spent by the government is spent by the parents for the education of their children.

Speaking of the world and regional trade and how Sri Lanka has to adjust to be abreast with such developments, he said that the global economy which grew at a dismal rate earlier is now growing faster rate which narrows down the gap between the rich and the poor in the world. He said that India and China is growing at the rate of 10% per annum. He said that Japan, China and India are becoming the three biggest economies in the world.

The structure of the global economy and super powers is fast changing , Dr Jayasundera said. He said that Russia, China and India are now on their brink and gaining influence for the world political and economic power. Small but highly developed economies are repositioning themselves for the next 50 years with long-term visions, strategic branding and differentiation from the rest of the world to make their need for development.

Dr Jayasundera said that the Middle East developed faster and is positioning itself as a new business hub connecting Asia, Far-east, Pacific, Africa, Europe, the North and South American states. Therefore, he said that countries are getting closer and closer and development has now arrived to Sri Lanka’s neighbourhood making the country to think of production frontiers to explore the potential.

Chandra Embuldeniya, Vice Chancellor, UWU, was one happy man who pioneered, nurtured and navigated the institution to achieve the desired results. He said that what has been achieved by the Uva University in the other’s eyes is nothing but a miracle, mainly due to efficient management and administration. He said that there have been recommendations to transfer this model of operation to other universities.

Mr Embuldeniya said that every other university has gone through a period of agitation, but UWU students never had to resort to such aggressive behaviour and said that there was not even one day of work loss to any student or work stopped unnecessarily. He said “This is perhaps is the only government institution in the whole country to have zero overtime.”

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