Mismatch between students enrolling in universities and those passing out

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Around 860,000 students enrol annually in state universities including the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), but the country produces only 13,000 graduates per year, a survey conducted by the Manpower Planning, Development and Research Division of the Department of Manpower and Employment reveals.

The study Determinants of Unemployment among Sri Lankan University Graduates has been conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations, Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission (UGC) with financial assistance from the International Labour Organisation.

It says that there are 15 public universities including nine affiliated institutions, five public institutions incorporated by Parliament Acts in Sri Lanka.

According to the report, a number of foreign universities have established local colleges in Sri Lanka, not as higher educational institutions but as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) under the Board of Investments (BOI).In the absence of proper supervision by the UGC, official statistics on graduate output from these private institutions are difficult to verify. However, it could be concluded that including those who return after studies abroad, more than 15,000 graduates enter the Sri Lankan labour market each year, the study observes. That amount is rapidly increasing.

Education expenses have been financed and provided predominantly by the government. Quoting the Central Bank report 2010, the report says, the government expenditure on university education stood at 1.86% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

When contacted by The Island for comment, UGC Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake said that the time duration of the degree courses were different and entire intake would not pass out in the same year.

"The general number that passes out in a given year is 13,000," he said.

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