Innovation and skills development key to success, says experts
By Cheranka Mendis
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) Business School will undergo some major changes within the next two years to offer better services to its students.
Speaking at the convocation of the School, President of ICASL Sujeewa Mudalige on Thursday stated that the Business School will receive a new state-of-the-art facility within the next 18 months in a 25, 000 sq. feet plot in Colombo 7. The construction of the new building which will start within the next two months is estimated to need an investment of Rs. 250 million. “The new building will enable the school to create more capacity and give the students better opportunities and benefits,” Mudalige said.
With the aim of maintaining international standards and new practices a complete revamp and relaunch of the current MBA programmes as well as the Post Graduate diploma programmes are in the pipeline. The curriculum face-lift is likely to take place next year and a panel and a new administration has already been put in place to ensure the successful completion of the project, he said.
Within the next 12 months a top quality short term executive education programme will also be in place, and applications for same are likely to called during mid next year.
The Business School which conducts courses under the affiliation of University of Southern Queensland (USQ), an international University of repute in distance learning for the MBA programme is likely to broaden their study areas into a new undergraduate programme as well. The Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance of the Faculty of Business of USQ Prof. Peter Best who was in Sri Lanka for the convocation said that “there is a possibility of starting a Bachelor of accounting with the institute under the new undergraduate degree in accounting which the School is interested in doing.”
The convocation held on Thursday saw the graduation of 75 students under the USQ Master of Business Administration, Master of Project Management and a post graduate diploma in Business and Finance Administration. Under the partnership over 300 students have received their degrees from USQ up to 2009.
Best, who along with his counterpart Lorne Gibson, the Student Experience Director of the Student Management Office of USQ has visited several local companies on Thursday to see the standards of practices, opportunities and the potential of the companies and the country on the whole. “They are excited about the development going on at present. Thanks to our affiliations with ICASL we have the opportunity of knowing what is going on in Sri Lanka and getting involved with the development of the country. We see innovation as key facilitators of the development at hand. We in turn hope to share our knowledge, advice and ideas we have received by working in a number of other countries,” Best told the Daily FT. Best was also the Chief Guest at the event.
On new developments in the accounting frontier, he asserted that the importance placed on international financial reporting takes pride of place. With Sri Lanka adopting to these practices and standards the country could and should participate in the harmonising of world accounting. Good reporting would also facilitate transparency and success in the economic and business front.
“Harmonisation is especially important for countries such as Sri Lanka. Introducing this would ensure acceleration of confidence in the international investors. It would also drive forth better foreign direct investment,” he said.
“We have seen a lot of changes over the last year. The country is more viable in terms of confidence, development and people perception. It is indeed a land of opportunity,” Gibson said, “It is now a matter of applying the skills, knowledge and vigour in the working environment to guarantee that the development takes the right turn.” The same was highlighted in the speech of the Guest of Honour Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne.
Nawaratne stated that the public and private sector now needs people who deliver results — the qualification alone does not matter; what matters is the skill development. “What we need are pragmatic people who are result givers. We need leaders with a vision to take Sri Lanka to truly be the wonder of Asia within the next 10-15 years,” Nawaratne said.
He stated that knowledge has three key pillars in today’s world. They are education, information communication technology and research and development. Out of the three Sri Lanka should concentrate heavily on research and development which is at low levels currently. The private sector must increase investment in this field and make Sri Lanka a research centre of the world.
Education must be developed as an export item rather than an import item, he said. “Not one foreign student has applied for studies in the 15 national universities in Sri Lanka. We must have at least 10, 000 foreign students studying here. If a student must pay an average USD 500, the country would receive at least USD50 million in response.” He asserted that private and foreign universities must be encouraged to set up degree programmes here targeting South Asia and China.
CEO of Cargills Ceylon Ltd., Ranjith Page who was also a Guest of Honor at the event placed emphasis on giving back to the rural poor. Stating that the country’s asset is the people he stated that the benefits of development must be equally distributed among the rural citizens as well as those in the main city. Rural youth, who have become the backbone of the success of his own company should be engaged in business activities more so than the youth in the Western Province.
Pix by Upul Abayasekara