B. Sc Hons Degree in computer design at AIT affiliated to Kingston University

Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree in Computer Information Systems Design is being offered by the Academy of Information Technology (AIT) of the Asian Aviation Centre (Pvt) Ltd., (AAC), which is affiliated to Kingston University, UK and Regency Institute of TAFE, South Australia.

The first two years of the Degree programme is delivered at the AIT, with stringent quality assurances by Kingston University staff who makes periodic visits to the AIT.

When the students join the first year, they are registered as internal students of Kingston University. The students proceed to UK for their final year of the Degree programme. This may be followed by another year of paid Industrial Placement in UK Companies arranged by the Kingston University.

"Sri Lankan students reading for this Degree have done exceptionally well. With a range of capabilities, in many cases, they have done better than their British counterparts", says Ms. Mary Thomson, Field Leader Information Systems Pathways, School of Computing & Information Systems of Kingston University, UK, who is now in Sri Lanka on a periodic visit to assess the teaching quality at AIT.

Historically, the AIT started as the Computer Division of the Academy of Aeronautical Engineering (AAE). As a result of its continued success in catering to the computer training needs of Engineering students of the AAE and the IT needs of the Lion Air Group of companies, the Division was upgraded to the level of another academy - the Academy of Information Technology.

The AIT achieved another milestone by getting franchised by the Kingston University, UK, to conduct undergraduate courses in computing.

"During the final year at Kingston University, the students can select from among ten modules so that they can work towards a tailor-made Degree", Ms. Thomson said. The students also undertake an individual project in the final year, and we make sure that all the students from the AIT are allocated, as supervisor, a lecturer they already know from our visits to AIT.

The Degree course costs Rs. 1.5 million, but during the fourth year students get paid when they undertake Industrial Placements, she noted.

The special feature of this course is that after the first year in Sri Lanka, students are sent to the industry for a three-month practical training, said Prasad Amarasinghe, Course Director, AIT.

The AIT has air-conditioned lecture halls/class rooms, computer practical laboratories, a library, silent study areas and discussion rooms. In addition to Audio Visual teaching aids, there is a multimedia laboratory equipped with a number of high-end machines with accesses to scanners, CD writers, audio editing and video editing facilities.

Kingston University has installed a learning Management System call ‘BLACKBOARD’. Because the system can be accessed by students at AIT, they gain access to materials used by their UK contemporaries at Kingston such as lecture notes and exercises. All students have to handle an individual project under our supervision", she explained.

The Academy of Aeronautical Engineering (AAE) of the Asian Aviation Centre (AAC), the premier Aeronautical Engineering and Flying Academy in Sri Lanka, offers Bachelors Degree in Engineering - BEng (Hons) - Aerospace/Mechanical/Automotive Systems Engineering of Kingston University with AAC Diploma in Management, Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering covering syllabus for European (JAR 66) AME License examination, Higher National Diploma in Engineering - Aerospace/ Mechanical/ Automotive Systems through Kingston University with AAC Diploma in Management, Certificate IV in Aviation Engineering, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical/Maintenance) of TAFE South Australia, leading to Diploma of Engineering in Aerospace (Maintenance), Australia, Aeronautical Maintenance Technician Course leading to AME Basic License of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Degree Access/Familiarisation Course, Engineering & Technology Foundation Course and Basics in Aviation (Holiday Course).

The Asian Aerospace College which is under the wings of the AAC offers Private Pilot License (PPL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL), CPL with Instrument Rating and Flight Instructor course.

AAC started as a flying training school to provide ab-initio training in 1985. In 1990, apart from flying training school, the company commenced a course of studies to train students to sit for the examination conducted by the Director General of Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka for the issue of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers’ (AME) License Without Type Rating (LWTR).

AAC was bought over by Lionair Group in 1995. With the change of management, it created two distinct schools - The Academy of Aeronautical Engineering (AAE) - Engineering School and the Asian Aerospace College - flying School.

As the successor to the CDE Flying School, AAC conducts flying training at the Air Force Training airfield at Katukurunda where it has air conditioned facilities for ground school.

"Many AAE trainees who followed the Aeronautical Maintenance Technicians Course are working for SriLankan Airlines", says Air Vice Marshal Upali Wanasinghe, Director (Studies) of AAC.

AAC, under the name and style of CDE Flying School trained a number of international students from Germany, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Malaysia, India, Switzerland, Holland, Iran, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Korea and Maldives up to CPL/IR and Multi Engine Ratings.

BEng (Hons) course consists of three years full-time study conducted in two phases: two years study in Sri Lanka under phase one followed by one year at Kingston University, UK. The third phase covers a one year optional UK work placement.

On successful completion of the full three-year degree course, Kingston University will confer a BEng (Hons) degree in whichever branch of engineering the student had studied. Graduates with suitable entry qualifications will qualify to register as an Incorporated Engineer with the Engineering Council of the UK.

"To complete the BEng (Hons) course in the UK will cost Rs. 5 million. Completing the first two years in Sri Lanka and a final year in the UK has drastically reduced the cost to Rs. 1.5 million", Air Vice Marshal Wanasinghe explained.

Kingston University has 15,000 full-time students following undergraduate and post-graduate courses, said Peter Barrington, Field Leader in Aerospace Engineering School of Engineering of Kingston University, who is in Sri Lanka on a periodic visit to assess the teaching quality at AAC. Three such independent quality checks are done in Sri Lanka per annum.

"In UK all universities are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council. Subject experts look at the teaching quality of British degrees to ensure that mandatory standards are maintained", he said.

He said that around 120 Sri Lankan students from AAC have so far graduated from Kingston University. Competing with their contemporaries on an equal basis at Kingston, their performance has been impressive.

Asked whether there is a demand for aeronautical studies in Sri Lanka, Air Vice Marshal Wanasinghe replied, "we cannot meet the demand".

On the impact on the industry following the September 11 attacks in the US, Barrington said job prospects have been made more difficult, but long term career prospects still remain very good. Growth rates are continuing. Flying schools entertain bonafide applications.