International Higher Education Conference on Thursday

Tuesday, 29 October 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • CMA-led event to highlight ‘Strategies to Bridge the Gap in Higher Education Intake - South and South East Asian Experiences’

Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka (CMA), together with The Institute of Chartered Professional Managers of Sri Lanka (CPM) an Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA), have organised the International Higher Education Conference on the theme ‘Strategies to Bridge the Gap in Higher Education Intake – South and South East Asian Experiences’ which will be held on 31 October at the BMICH from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

The International Higher Education Conference will address the major drawback where there are approximately 165,000 students passing the GCE Advanced Level exams in Sri Lanka and eligible to enter universities, but only 25,000 to 30,000 get places in Government universities. As a result, during the last 10 years, more than one million youth have lost opportunities to pursue higher education in Sri Lanka. Therefore Sri Lanka needs an urgent solution to meet this gap in progressing from secondary to tertiary education sector, a serious concern for any developing country, and to find urgent solutions to make Sri Lanka an education hub with technology and demand-driven university courses to meet the job market’s requirements. 

Some of the other connected matters for discussion will be the serious mismatch between skills available and skills in demand, showing the gap in the education system with ICT and English language, the most demanded soft skills in the country. 

This would require an increase in the higher education intake immediately, to a minimum of 50% from a meagre 15% of those qualifying at the GCE A/L and eligible to enter University. This conference will more importantly deliberate on the South and South East Asian experiences that have enabled countries to cater to a larger number of students and make rapid advancement in the higher education sector, and have created a knowledge revolution, accelerating economic development, resulting in prosperous nations driven by public, private and Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives.  The conference will be inaugurated by University Grants Commission Chairman Prof. Mohan De Silva and he will deliver the keynote address on ‘A Professional Vision to Create a Knowledge Economy’ and CMA Sri Lanka President Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala will welcome the gathering and detail the objective of the conference. Associated at the inauguration well be AMDISA President Prof Abdul Rahman Mubaarique from Maldives and incoming President Prof Siddiqui Nisar Ahmed from Pakistan. 

Conference panel discussion session one will be on the topic ‘Meeting the gap in the number qualifying at A/L to enter universities and intake numbers to Universities and mismatch in education courses and job market requirements - South and South East Asian Experiences’ This session will be chaired by Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka Founder/Vice Chancellor, 2004-2011 Dr. Chandra Embuldeniya, and co-chaired by CMA Sri Lanka Vice President H.M. Hennayake Bandara. The panellists will share their experience on the following topics: ‘How Sri Lankan State universities can increase the intake and introduce new courses to meet the expectations gap of those passing A/L’, ‘Mismatch in those qualifying to enter university and job market requirements’, ‘The role played by foreign-affiliated university colleges to increase courses and intake’, ‘New technological higher education programs’, ‘The role played by Public-Private Partnerships in higher education to increase pathways and intake’ ‘Role of professional institutes in bridging the gap– accounting, marketing, human resource, engineering, ICT, science and South and South East Asian Experiences’, ‘The Open University’s role to bridge the gap in higher education’, ‘Providing higher education at an affordable Cost’ and ‘South and South East Asian experiences and University education’ will be detailed by Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysian experts.

The second panel discussion will be on the topic ‘Quality Control and Accreditation’ and this session will be chaired by NHRDC and Hatton National Bank Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody, and co-chaired by CMA Sri Lanka Council Member Adrian Perera. The session will discuss the accreditation and quality control to maintain high standards for higher education at degree and post graduate levels, applicability to private universities and colleges affiliated to foreign universities and professional bodies. Experiences of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal will be discussed. 

The third panel discussion will be on the topic ‘Science & Technology, Research, Innovation and Commercialisation’. The session will be chaired by University of Sri Jayewardenepura Postgraduate Institute of Management Faculty Member/Management Consultant Dr. Samantha Rathnayake. The low availability of science and technology education at school level and the large number of Arts students passing at A/L, and conversion to the science and technology streams, are urgent challenges that need to be met. STEM education in schools and Higher education and meeting the needs of technology revolution, expansion of science, technology and research in universities, success of private higher education in chemical sciences and technology, and job market requirements in the IT Sector to increase exports and FDI will be discussed by the panel. 

The conference will conclude with the summary of outcomes of sessions 1, 2 and 3, and a dialogue with political leaders, government authorities, academics, Vice Chancellors, business community, professionals, foreign experts, funding agencies and the World Bank on their solutions and action plans to bridge the gap in higher education. This includes: increasing intake to higher education institutes to minimum 50% from 15%; science and technology education; quality control and accreditation; and bridging skills mismatch to meet job market requirements. All sessions will be panel discussions, and participants will also have an opportunity to obtain clarifications and direct questions to the panellists. The panellists will be from public, private and Private Public Partnership universities and institutions in Sri Lanka. This will include affiliated institutes granting foreign degrees in Sri Lanka. 

This conference is meant for all stakeholders including higher education providers, both public and private, policymakers, political authorities, foreign funding agencies, business community, Ministries and institutes involved in higher, tertiary and vocational education, Government and private sector recruiting university graduates, professionals and MBA holders, human resource managers of private and public sector organisations, chambers of commerce, professional educational institutes, banks, insurance and financial organisations, donors, principals of schools and parents. 

Those interested to attend please contact Shanthi on +94(0)714705536 or email [email protected] on or before 29 October.