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Friday, July 8, 2011

Universities to enroll 1,000 foreign students next year

The Island 08/07/2011

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Higher Education Ministry on Thursday (7) said that enrolling a small percentage of foreign students to the local universities will not affect the local intake.

Addressing a press conference, at the University Grants Commission, Secretary to the Ministry Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne said that they planned to enroll 1,000 foreign students to the government universities for the next academic year.

Answering a query, he said it would never affect the local intake which was increased to 22,700 this year.

"Last year, Sri Lankan universities were able to accommodate 21,000 students but it has increased by 1,700 this year," Dr. Navaratne said. Therefore, how can someone claim that enrolling foreign students would affect the local intake, he asked.

He said that they would charge about US $ 5,000 from each foreign student and it could cover the capital expenditure of the rest of the universities.

According to Dr. Navaratne, currently thousands of local students attend foreign universities and Sri Lanka has lost valuable foreign exchange. "This is one method to retain the monies in this country," he said.

The main opposition, the UNP and JVP continuously protest against the Ministry’s decision to enroll foreign students to the government universities claiming that it is a serious threat to country’s free education system.

Dr. Jayaratne said that most of them criticized the government when introducing a leadership training programme to university entrants, but all were appreciative of it now.

The second batch successfully completed the leadership training programme last week and the next programme will start on July 11 for the students of the Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Jaffna Districts and those who missed the first two programmes, he said.

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake said that four universities in the country would be uplifted to world rank within the next four years