Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tertiary Education – a Policy Shift – as evidenced in the 2012 Budget

The government appears to have made a very concerted decision that it is not their Business to determine the future of Tertiary Education, and that the Private Sector should henceforth let market forces determine the resources, quality and direction this sector should take.

With this broad based idea, the Government intends to set the standards and guidelines with the Private Universities Act earlier rather than later in the New Year. No amount of agitation from students in the state system is going to let them change this view and the steps they intend taking to make sure it happens. The government has also decided it seems to me that it can no longer give into the demands of University teachers whose tenure and inflexibility cannot change them from being old fashioned thinkers who are unable to think outside of the box but are merely agitating to protect their turf. Therefore they have no objection to them leaving the service or going overseas to follow their calling.

This attitude has its merits, if we take the position that Public Education is almost irrelevant in the scheme of things and that only the Private Sector can provide the needed shortfall of human resources in the Economy. If you take that attitude as the government seems to, then the Graduates from the public sector can only be given government jobs, not that they are capable of doing them, but that the private sector will not hire them. They have a better resource pool from those who have a proven qualifications in Private Education and have sacrificed by paying for that education, and are therefore more committed to their subject and vocation.

To me it is a radical opinion, that will gain traction amongst people I speak to in the private sector, who are bent on competing in the International Sphere with other countries. They are convinced the Public Sector is just incapable of providing the raw material, so why waste more money on this product. Of course there are some exceptions such as some courses offered by the University of Moratuwa in Katubedda, that produce some highly sort after Technology and Maths graduates.

We then come full circle to the realization that something obtained free is not valued, and the financial commitment that a Public University student puts into his degree is for all personal expenses other than tuition. These students have a mistaken belief that they are the chosen few in society and are therefore owed a job in the state sector full of the perks and titles that come with it. The way round this is for these students to get a dose of reality at the time of entry into University so that they will follow a different thought process during their undergraduate years.

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