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Govt. to set up Higher Institute of Technology in partnership with University of California

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By Shannon Jayawardena

The Government has signed an agreement to set up a Higher Institute of Technology, with the University of California (UC) in Berkeley which is ranked among the top 10 in the world.

An agreement with the university was signed last week for the first phase of the partnership to set up an undergraduate business and engineering school in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Nalin Walpita Prime Ministerial Committee Chairman on the Centre of Excellence for Higher Education said the institute incorporated as a Public Private Partnership is to be focused on business and engineering. 

It will be operated on a needs-blind basis with not less than 25% of Sri Lankan undergraduates on full scholarships to provide the opportunity for undergraduate students in the country and the SAARC region as well.

“This is really different than the normal situation of paying a fee. The needs-blind aspect which will be provided is truly an important factor in this proposal. The sole purpose of it is to provide a possible education in the business area and engineering sectors,” Walpita said.

The Institute will help create a highly talented resource pool that can help position Sri Lanka and the region as a knowledge hub and will be a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. Executive education and MBA programs will also be offered to enhance the professional skills of executives who are already employed.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that the students who come to this school are top performers. We’re not going to sacrifice quality because someone can afford to pay and someone can’t. So this institute will be opened for the best students,” noted New Academic Ventures Unit of the University of California, Berkley Emerging Initiatives Executive Director Adam Berman. 

In addition, a group of professors from MIT Boston University and Brandeis University have been requested to help create a blueprint for a Centre of Excellence Engineering College. These academics will be volunteering their time to prepare a preliminary design and development blueprint. 

The Government is to allocate land in the Port City area and the new university is to lease a land at Keragala in Biyagama to develop a ‘University and Technology Township’ for the campus, a technology park, innovation hub, housing and common facilities and infrastructure. 

Committee Member Charitha Ratwatte said: “What’s important is that this is a private-public partnership and this is an opportunity for all talented students, which is one of the conditions of the University of California as well as the local government. This will be a high standard qualification for the most talented students in Sri Lanka and the SAARC Region and this will be a first in the region as well.” 

Committee Member Charitha Ratwatte, New Academic Ventures Unit of the University of California, Berkley Emerging Initiatives Executive Director Adam Berman, Haas School of Business Associate Dean Emeritus Andrew Shogan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs SAARC Region Director General Yasoja Gunasekera were also present at the media briefing. 

Pix by Lasantha Kumara


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