Over 7,000 go overseas annually for studies

by Lakshmi de Silva

Around 7,000 students go abroad for higher education annually but the Higher Education Ministry does not keep records or register students going abroad for higher studies privately, Ministry Secretary Mrs. P. B. G. Abeyratne said.

However, the Controller of Immigration and Emigration P. B. Abeykoon said there may be more than 7,000 who go abroad annually for studies but around 20,000 passports are issued purportedly for those leaving the country for higher education.

Higher Education Ministry sources attributed this large exodus of students to the inability of universities to admit all those who qualify at the AL examination. Parents who could afford to send their children abroad do so, source added. "This is a feature of the global scenario of this era."

Though university education is free, it can accommodate only a limited number of students. Currently, there are only 16 state universities and only about 16,000 students are admitted.

Asked about the annual total foreign exchange spent by the Sri Lankan students studying abroad, a senior official of the Exchange Control Division of the Central Bank said they too were not aware of the exact figures but were in the process of calculating it.

This was also difficult as there were payments made through credit cards. But students who study in Western countries or Australia spend as much as Rs. 2.5 million per year for their education, several parents who had sent their children abroad said.



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