July 30th, 2007 - Posted By Sujata Gamage
According to a report in Financial Times “Despite the rapid depreciation of the Sri Lanka rupee, more and more students are seeking a foreign professional qualification which require costly foreign cash.” http://www.sundaytimes.lk/070729/FinancialTimes/ft326.html
Interestingly, most CVs we see these days cite a local degree and CIMA as qualifications, both completed at about the same time. In essence, we are giving free-of-charge education that (a) needs another professional qualification to prop it up (b) is spent on some people who can afford to pay (c) ends up ill-serving those who are supposed to benefit.
I like to elaborate on the last point. Take the three cases: (1) A student from a poor family qualifies for university and enters the School of management at University of Sri Jayewardenapura, say, for a free-of-charge education (2) Another one enters at the same time and pays for CIMA as well,and gets to be employable even before the end of the degree program. (3) A third one starts the CIMA, works while she/he studies and then goes on to do a MBA. The first student wastes time going back and forth between ad-hoc closures and reopenings while the other two progress steadily and the second student wastes tax payer money to get a degree that is a mere status symbol.
If the purpose of government spending on higher education is equity, would it not be more equitable for the government to give some real options to those who are supposed to benefit from the spending? For example, instead of wasting money on public institutions that are incapable of managing themselves, why not ask them to reduce enrolment and use the per student cost difference to give scholarship to a percent of GCE A/L top performers so that they can choose to follow the CIMA-work_MBA track if they want to.