At a time when Sri Lanka is facing a major foreign exchange crisis with the severe dollar shortage in the country threatening day-to-day life, a senior businessman believes that the country could earn foreign exchange by developing the country as a regional education hub.
Ceylinco Insurance Executive Chairman and CEO, Ajith R. Gunawardena said, “Sri Lanka’s education industry can be developed as a regional education hub to attract students from overseas to pursue international degree programmes at affordable rates as opposed to studying at partner University locations.”
However, according to him the current Sri Lankan immigration policies need to facilitate this hub concept by making it easy for foreign students to obtain student visas.
Many Sri Lankan students migrate to foreign countries pursuing higher education as the Sri Lankan state owned Universities find it challenging to provide opportunities.
Around 12,000 students choose to pursue higher studies abroad each year. Popular study destinations include, Australia, New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom, Russia, East European countries, East Asia and China.
The previous government encouraged many international educational institutes to establish centres in Sri Lanka to address the gap, which could provide Sri Lankan students with slightly affordable educational opportunities.
The Government also though it would curtail educational migration of Sri Lankan students saving the country dollars, which was otherwise spent in foreign countries as well as that it would encourage foreign students to study in the country bringing in more foreign exchange.
However, the programme was barely successful due to severe bottle necks as highlighted by Gunawardena.
By Mario Andree