Privatization of higher education ; a green light
Higher education of an excellent standard is critical for a nation to become globally competitive. According to the report of the Task force of higher education and society (2007) convened by World Bank and UNESCO, ‘Education is no longer a luxury, but an essential for the development of national, economic and social entities of a country’. Similarly, without the proper improvisation of human capital and their capabilities in the work force, nations would undoubtedly fall back and tend to face an economic isolation and marginalization.
Making investments on higher education, focusing mainly on innovative aspects of different subjects including science and technology will undoubtedly help in achieving progression in economic and social sectors when compared to their counterparts which would rarely have motivation to expand their pool of human dexterity.
Unfortunately, severe stagnation of the current economy and rapidly increasing incidence of youth unemployment in developing countries including Sri Lanka, have brought up the question as to, whether the contribution of traditional modes of higher education itself, is enough to meet these requirements of the increasing population density in these countries.
As far as the global aspect of higher education is considered, there are two main models, which the university education in developed countries is based on; namely American model and European model. In the American model, higher education is funded by tuition and endowments where the European model primarily depends on government funds. According to research studies done, over years, it has become clearly evident that, American model of higher education is highly qualitative and successful in every aspect compared to that of European model, highlighting the principal of market mechanism in economy; students should pay the marginal cost of their education, so that the universities should be able to provide an education which meets the qualitative demands of the consumers (students) who pay for it.
The major factors which lead, private higher education towards the sneak-peak include, the competition among various institutions, innovative components in the curriculum targeting the production of skillful, career- focused graduates, adequate funds and facilities available for research studies, constant pressure on academic staff to publish researches, surveillance and evaluation of academic and non-academic staff in order to reduce the role of bureaucracy and improve accountability and the easy access to achieve the triangular relationship between academics, industry and government.
At present, Sri Lanka has faced a huge crisis, on allocating the budget for thousand and one demands of the population. Under these circumstances, it is quite clear that there is a likelihood of downsizing the monetary resources, set-aside for higher education, since the more priority has been given to primary and secondary education, in the aspect of education.
In a situation like that, the opening up of private universities would definitely play an important role in the co-existence of both private and government universities.
As much as the students who prefer would get into private universities by paying the tuition fees, following the American model, there will be thousand and one vacancies opened-up in government universities for the students who cannot afford. Ultimately, a workforce of professionals with excellent skills, knowledge and proficiency in their own specialized field of preference would be created, paving the way of our nation’s economy, towards one outstanding goal.
However, it is the sole responsibility of the government to make necessary regulations in order to standardize the private higher education in the country by ensuring the proper functioning and adequate quality of these institutions to ilegalize fly-by-night recruiters.