Uva-Wellassa University

August 7th, 2005 - Posted By Sujata Gamage

A University for Uva Wellassa, the 14th university in Sri Lanka’s public university system, was opened on August 7. To the average citizen who pays for these ventures through every purchase he/she makes (except milk powder and LPG, as of yesterday) this is a not so joyous birth of a 14th child to a public university family with 13 other mouths to feed. (One interesting development is the appointment of a non-academic to the Vice-Chancellor position, more on that later).

Our universities are short on everything. Short on resources and short on talent, both academic and managerial. We should be devoting precious public resources to  improve quality of existing universities. The University Of Colombo was the only Sri Lankan institution to be included in the year 2000 survey of Asian universities by  Asia Week, and that university came a dead last out of a field of 70 contenders. Other newly established universities are universities in name only. Faculties of management and faculties of social science and humanities are the worst off. Only 30% of the faculty members in social science and humanities hold PhDs. Another 47% hold masters level qualifications but close to half of these Masters were obtained in the same institution that they  got a BA from.  (source: commonwealth Universities Year Books, 2002). This insularity of university faculty might be on the increase. In a university, quality of faculty is everything and exposure to new ideas is essential for quality. Our universities are glorified tutories in this regard.

The government has allocated a Rs; 1 billion for the new university.  This additional money come at the expense of other priorities. These are monies that could have used to give incentives to the private sector to train more people for real jobs–apprentice training programs have proven to be effective for placing young trainees in the private sector.  These are monies that could have  been given to school leavers as vouchers to attend private institutions of their choice.   Instead, a dysfunctional government goes around adding more universities to a dysfunctional public university system. 

In a comprehensive report on education in Sri Lanka, a World Bank team led by Dr. Harsha Aturupane has used census data and other national data sets to make a convincing argument about priorities in educational spending.  (World Bank PDF)

Please look at the data before you pooh pooh the World Bank. The analysis confirms a generally accepted principle. A country in our stage of development should spend its precious tax rupees on upgrading primary and secondary education. In tertiary education, any further investments should come from the private sector, with the government being the facilitator.

Oh well, a new baby is a new baby, and every province in Sri lanka but Uva now has its problem child or two. Wayabma province was the  last to get  one. Why not UVA. 

If there is anything new and interesting about the new university, it is in the selection of the new Vice Chancellor. Mr. Chandra Embuldeniya is the new Vice Chancellor.   Mr. Embuldeniya does not have a PhD and he is not from the Sri Lankan academic community, but he has a record of accomplishments as a business executive  in quality assurance and information management (His bio can be found at www.nccsl.lk/pressreleases/so_231103.pdf.).  When I served briefly as the Director General of the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission from 2003-2004, Mr .Embuldeniya was a member of the board. I always looked up to him for  sound advice. Although it is painful to witness the advent of another public university the country can ill afford, we should view the appointment of Mr. Embuldeniya as a positive development for the system, and wish the new Vice Chancellor all the best.

Universities have been traditionally run by academics for academics but the institutions have been changing in response to new demands.

Take Oxford University.  Dr John Hood was admitted as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford on 5 October 2004. He is the first person in the institution’s 900 year history to be elected to the Vice-Chancellorship from outside the University’s current academic body.  The principal policy-making body of the university, the university council is still largely an internal body with only 4 out of the 25 members selected from outside. 

In Warwick University, a top research university  that started only in 1961, the governing Council  has a full membership of 33, a majority of whom are lay members drawn from the professions, business and industry and local authorities, who bring a range of experience and professional expertise to the work of the University.

In the American model, the board of management is entirely made of members from outside the academic community, but the leadership is drawn from the academia. Given the presence of an active market for educational services in the , even the academic administrators often have to be good managers of the services they provide.

In , the 1985 universities act of Sri Lanka allowed for the expansion of the membership of the university council, the executive body and the governing authority, by specifying that Half plus one members of the Council can be appointed by the University Grants Commission from persons outside the academia. The composition of the University Grants Commission is not specified in the Act but all 6 current appointee are academics.  For all practical purposes, the university system in Sri lanka is run by academics for academics. A PhD and a professorship and administrative experience in the system is usually required for senior administrative positions.

Judging by the dismal state of affairs in our universities the current operating structure obviously does not work.  The UK or US models per se won’t work either. Our public universities operate in a supplier’s market where we have 90,000 or more students knocking on the gates for less than 15,000 places.  There is no managed approach to introduce private choices. University faculty and administrators have no incentive for  real change because there’ll be students clamoring to enter no matter what the quality of the education is. We’ll have to take advantage of any new opportunity for change. Let us hope that a vice chancellor from outside the system can bring some new ideas. Mr. Embuldeniya, We wish you good Luck .

Sujata Gamage
Coordinator

www.educationforum.lk

 

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27 comments on “Uva-Wellassa University

  1. Chandra Embuldeniya


    Dear Sujatha
    I am indeed appreciative of your comment. If at any time you wish to find out more about what we are doing please let me know and I would be happy to discuss with you.
    with warm regards
    Chandra

  2. Luxman Siriwardena


    Let me raise some thought provoking issues on Sujatha’s writings etc,.

    What can 75,000 students who qualify but do not have access even to the existing sub-standard universities do? In short/medium/long term

    Will the political decision to open universities in every district later be expanded to electorate level just like Central Colleges by the populist and opportunistic politicos?

    If private choices are incentivised what are the choices for the not able to buy students? Vouchers/Schols/Loans

    What ever it is, isn’t it nice for the politicians whose kith and kins either did not qualify to or did chose local universities but are brought up in foriegn universities to be still to be “sympathatic” towards local under priviledged and keep opening universities everywhere though sub-standard.

    Is the root cause of the problem the background of the VCs, management or state ownership, interventions and control?

    With all due respect to Chandra, it will be a mirracle if he can make difference by himself without the backing of a strong, commited leader who is a doer not just by a big talk at the tail end of the tenure achieving very little tangible results in education reforms

  3. RAVEENDRANATHAN ARAVINTHANATH


    dear..
    i want know about your uva wellassa university’s placement. i already applied to this university. when will the apptitute test hold? i studied in maths stream at jaffna. my z core is 1.5847, how is my chance to join with you.i hope your reply

  4. J.A.Amaraweera


    Dr. Chandra Embuldeniya, Vice-Chancellor – Uva-Wellassa University
    Dear Sir,
    Congratulations for your appointment to the esteemed seat of excellence in the newly established University. I whole-heartedly wish you that your every endeavour become a total success.

    I am writing this to you especially to inform you about my son who is a BSC Graduate from University of Colombo. He has done Nuclear Science and Non-destructive testing Technology(NDT)at the University. He resides in Hali-Ella. Formerly he was at the Atomic Energy Authority as a Scientific Officer and last year he resigned from the post. He has travelled to Japan, Korea andS’Pore on study tours and attended several Workshops. I think that you can utilise his expertise and knowledge for your University. If you wish I can send his CV via
    e-mail for your scrutiny and consideration. Very recently he has written a book on Electricity in Sinhala titled ” Viduliya Ulpath” and is being published soon by Stamford Lake Press of Lake House. Prior to his appointment at the AEA he was a Tutor/Instructor in Physics at the University of Moratuwa.

    I would like you to kindly look into this matter and send me a favourable reply.

    Wish you a prosperous Newyear !

    Yours truly,

    J.A.Amaraweera

  5. L.R. Silva


    I believe that the University of Uva Wellassa will be a model for other academic institutes in Sri Lanka. What is required for the smooth progress of the University is to fill all the academic positions with well qualified individuals without delay. This would make a competitive environment and even best would be seleted for responsible positions in the future. Qualified individuals have been prevented entering into academic positions sepcially in some of the newly established universities, mainly because of the negative attitutde of those who feard to be in a competitive atomosphere. If there were a competitive atmosphere in such places, things would have been totally different today. It is important to facilitate natural selections, so that the best would select for imporant positions. I think that the new vice chancellor of the Uva Wellassa university will have the courage to attact qualified individuals for academic positions.

  6. A.L.Sarivudeen


    I hope this will be a good achivement in the history of educational reform. I appriciate the goverment for their steps under taken towards the development progress of eudcational achivement.

    I congradualte Vice-chancholor and I hope he will be actively functioning to achive its mission.

  7. K.S.W. Cooray


    It is nice to read about the University of Uva and specailly the new concepts and models that it is going to adopt to. I wish that Mr. Embuldeniya will do his best to achieve its mission. As pointed out, it doesnt matter whether the VC has a doctorate or not. Degrees are to gain knowledge and to save for the society but if you see some University websites one could see that the acedemics are using titles and place where they obtain for mere show. How many academics in the University system use their designations correctly? For example even some Associate Professors (perhaps even vice chancellors) call themselves as Professors which is worng and incorrect (but none would like if an Assistant Burser is called as “Burser” or an Assistant Registrar is called as “Registrar”. This mentality is a barrier for the development and it is a good sign that the Uva Wellasssa University wont be a part of that. Good Luck.

  8. sathiyapirasanna


    i am 05 A\L student for JAFFNA distric,I have been passed the G.E.C A\L examination,i am a commerce student,my A\L 2005 result is Acc=B,Com=C,Eco=A,Z-score=1.2035.I applyed to Entrepreneurship & Management Studies throught the UGC for my uva uiversity placemet.My more Z=score is more than enought for studying Entrepreneurship & Management Studies but i have not get my secound form from the UGC Srilanka.(my Index No : 9357513 and my E-mail address sathiy4@gmail.com).please help me.

    Please sir,reply for me about my Entrepreneurship & Management Studies placement at the uva university…
    Yours Expecting reply student
    V.Sathiyapirasanna

  9. sathiyapirasanna


    i am a 2005A\L student form JAFFNA distric,my A\L 2005 result is Acc=B,Com=C,Eco=A,Z-score=1.2035.I applyed to Entrepreneurship & Management Studies throught the UGC for my uva uiversity placemet.My Z=score is more than enought for study Entrepreneurship & Management Studies but i have not get my secound form from the UGC Srilanka.(my Index No : 9357513 and my E-mail address sathiy4@gmail.com) please help me.

    Please sir,reply for me about my Entrepreneurship & Management Studies placement at the uva university…
    Yours Expecting reply student
    V.Sathiyapirasanna

  10. sathiyapirasanna


    i am a 2005A\L student from JAFFNA distric,my A\L 2005 result is Acc=B,Com=C,Eco=A,Z-score=1.2035.I applyed to Entrepreneurship & Management Studies throught the UGC for my uva uiversity placemet.My Z=score is more than enought for study Entrepreneurship & Management Studies but i have not get my secound form from the UGC Srilanka.(my Index No : 9357513 and my E-mail address sathiy4@gmail.com) please help me.

    Please sir,reply for me about my Entrepreneurship & Management Studies placement at the uva university…

    Yours Expecting reply student

    V.Sathiyapirasanna

  11. Mohomad


    Oh dear, Universities cannot run like private companies. If someone is going to run a university only with temporary staff, how could one gurantee the long term progress of such an institute. You need to recruit qualified people for permanenet positions which gives them an incentive to work without uncertainity. For example, if a VC has appointed for the position on temporary basis with extension on montly basis, can we expect that he would do a good job?

  12. M.Niroshan


    i am a 2006A\L student from VAVUNIYA distric,my A\L 2006 result is Maths=B,Chemistry=C,Physics=C,.I applyed to Computerscience & Technology throught the UGC for my uva uiversity placemet.I had get my secound form from the UGC Srilanka that i selected to this course to study.But still i did not receive any letter from university.When can i receive that letter. When my course will start(my Index No : 3298051 and my E-mail address niroshanm@gmail.com) please help me.

  13. Dhammika karunanayake


    I am a student of Uva wellassa university.So now I have understood very well what is the diferent between our university & others.If any one hopes to be a super character of society this is the place for them.If you have selected for the university system, to make real your dreams please put your first choice under Uva wellassa university.

  14. Coordinator Post author


    It is nice to hear from a student. (With the Web you never know though!)
    It has been almost two years since the university started. It will be good to have some hard data. Did the university keep to the academic calendar? Were the students able to do complete two years without disturbances? Did the students receive their results on time? Can you go to a bathroom without holding your nose?

    Unfortunately these are the kinds of performance measures we need for higher education institutions in this country.

  15. Coordinator Post author


    It is nice to hear from a student. (With the Web you never know though!)
    It has been almost two years since the university. It will be good to have some hard data. Did the university keep to the academic calendar? Were the students able to do complete two years without disturbances? Did the students receive their results on time? Can you go to a bathroom without holding your nose?

    Unfortunately these are the kinds of performance measures we need for higher education institutions in this country.

  16. Dhammika karunanayake


    I like to give a reply to the coordinater about her problems.We are the one an only university that started university carrier within one year after putting foundation.Now we are finishing our first year before complete second anuasary of our university.That will give you an idea about our eficiancy.If other university students watch hostels,toilets,lecture halls & other facilities of our university no doubt they will feel jellous.

  17. Coordinator Post author


    Dear Dhammmika:
    We might do a report about the university for its second anniversary. What would be a good time to visit? Can you help us with interviews with students? As the Vice Chancellor has offered to help as a response to this post we’ll contact him as well.

  18. Dhammika karunanayake


    Dear Sujatha Gamage, I should discuss with vice chanceller about your idea.On the other hand its better to contact vice chanceller on this idea from your side.If I can do something,I will do my best to help on this idea.

  19. saleh al-Gumgham


    i want study the NDT for level 1&2 with all methods how much it will cost me and how long should i stay to get those levels (i am from saudi arabia)

  20. sudarma


    i like joint u campus.i am a university student.i have BSC degree.my subjectes are computerscience,chemisty and maths.

  21. senthil


    Dear Sir/Madam,
    First I thank for your service, Could I get model exam papers for GENERALKNOELEDGE AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.I would be gratefull to you.
    Yours Sincerely,
    T.Senthil

  22. sasanka herath


    Dear Sir
    I have apply for apitude test of your university,if i can get sample paper of iq and amimal science
    your fathfully
    sasanka

  23. CJE


    This is a test of your IQ and Aptitude to follow the the degree program. There are no sample papers and we do not encourage tuition. We like people who get selected by their normal strengths

  24. kumaran


    Any one have aptitude exams paper of Uva-Wellassa University,

    Could You kindly forwarded to above email address (elil_12@yahoo.com) ?

    Thank You
    Regards
    Kumaran

  25. Chandra Embuldeniya


    Indeed, the foregoing postings are a reflection of the expectations in 2005, and I am grateful that those are still visible. After 7 years since venturing out to Badulla to set up Uva Wellassa University in 2004, I completed my task in 2011. I am happy to note that we have the first Science and Technology University focusing on value addition to the national resources base with all students developing essential skills in their core interdisciplinary curriculum. Among these programs are 12 programs with technology label and meant to add value to such resources as tea, rubber, coconut, minerals, aquatics, etc and hospitality, tourism, events, ICT, entrepreneurship, management, insurance, actuary, etc. The newly created Science Stream by the Education Ministry will feed a large cohort to the university in time. I am happy to report that science & technology as the value creation tool was foreseen in 2004. Bringing arts, humanities and social sciences into the interdisciplinary syllabi in 2005 was the other success factor. It is recognized now by the thought leaders in several countries as a game changer for entrepreneurial education. Students are very innovative and in demand by employers in the private sector. This University materialized, due to the commitment of many people who supported this effort wanting to see a change. Among them are two Presidents, Several Ministers, academia, operations staff, corporate sector players and most of all my students (and their parents as key stakeholder). I thank them all very sincerely and remind the generations of students to follow the culture at UWU without exception. That will gratify everyone whose expectations are to see better nation building, upholding the values for rapid development in a knowledge economy.
    Dr. Chandra Embuldeniya

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