By Cheranka Mendis
In the wake of what is known as modern day Sri Lanka’s largest and most spectacular development programme, the Hambantota international hub development programme,
which focuses on developing human resources on fisheries and marine science, is an important one – and one that would guarantee long term effects.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Ruhuna Prof. Susirith Mendis yesterday emphasised that Sri Lanka must now focus on expanding the human resource base on the marine front with development being concentrated on the oceanic front. With President Rajapaksa announcing his target of making Sri Lanka a maritime hub, trained and skilled workers are needed to ensure minimum damage and least exploitation of the sea.
“There is immense wealth available in the sea and we have now received international rights to exploit it. For this we need to build our human resources,” Mendis said, “such objectives are needed to ensure managed exploitation of resources.”
There is a danger of vested interests taking undue advantage of Sri Lanka, he said. The University of Ruhuna — the only university that holds a Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences and Technology — has contributed immensely to develop this sector. In a historical move, the University of Ruhuna on Monday tied up with Hawaii Pacific University to provide internationally qualified marine biology majors to local students.
Sealed with a MoU, the tie-up would provide the marine biology majors at Ruhuna with a rare opportunity of transferring to HPU after completion of the first two years with a 100% credit transfers with scholarship, permission to do part-time and summer internships and earn a globally reputed BSc from Hawaii’s largest private university.
Tuition free student exchange programmes and faculty exchanges are also provided through the tie up and the university will also assist in establishing a Masters degree programme in Marine Biology at Ruhuna.
This is said to be the first time such a partnership has been made between a State university and an American university. University of Ruhuna is recognised as the second best university in Sri Lanka and is listed as the 23rd best in South Asia.
Dean of the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences and Technology Dr. Thilak Gamage said that the university has had previous mergers with universities in Tokyo, China, Germany and Norway, but never with an American University. “Long-term benefits of the partnership include curriculum development, student exchange, research development and joint development of degree programmes,” he stated.
Director Graduate Admissions of HPU Chad Schempp stated that the relationship sealed by the MOU was a good fit for both universities as HPU wanted to expand into Asia and developing regions within the next few years. Culturally diversified, the university hosts students from 100 countries plus 50 states of the USA.