Sri Lanka’s higher education landscape in 2012

Posted by Coordinator on November 27, 2020  /  0 Comments

To our knowledge, the non-state sector in higher education in Sri Lanka is largely undocumented. The only comprehensive survey available was carried out by the Education Forum Sri Lanka (EFSL) in 2012 in partnership with LIRNEAsia and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The information is reposted here in the public interest.

The higher education landscape is captured as a directory  of Higher education opportunities in Sri Lanka containing a listing of all degree programs offered by alternative higher education institutions or institutions that are outside the purview of the University Grants Commission (UGC) mediated system of 14 public universities and affiliated Institutions.

The alternative system consists of:

  • 10 PUBLIC institutions which admit students on their own charging nominal to significant amounts as fees and offering 41 degree programs. During 2010/2011, 9 of these institutions produced 4,229 graduates
  • 46 PRIVATE institutions offering 212 degree programs; During 2010/2011, 27 of the institutions produced 2,733 graduates from 86 degree programs
  • 5 or more PROFESSIONAL BODIES awarded 1000 or more professional qualifications. A full count of professional bodies and the certifications conferred by them will be presented in a forthcoming issue of the Choices magazine.

NOTE: These data were collected during Dec 2011 – March 2012.

The directory is the result of an in-depth survey carried out by LIRNEasia, the research partner of Education Forum Sri Lanka (EFSL). LIRNEasia is a policy and regulation think tank based in Colombo and active across Asia. The survey of degree programs in Sri Lanka is the first in the series of surveys on further education opportunities in Asia to be carried out by LIRNEasia.

Appreciating the importance of a directory of this nature for parents and students as well as the business community, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce joined hands with LIRNEasia for a soft-launch of the directory on June 27th at the Chamber premises.

The quality of the programs per se is not addressed IN THIS ISSUE. Given the emergent nature of the alternative higher education system, (a) the recognition of the degree-awarding body by relevant authorities and (b) the track record of having graduated one or more students are considered as adequate ‘starter’ indicators of quality. As the system matures additional indicators of quality will be added.

EFSL/LIRNEAsia is grateful to the institutions for providing the information. This directory should be used only as a guide. Relevant institutions should be contacted to verify the information, cost information in particular, before making decisions The directory is posted fully on


Awarding Authority: University Grants of Commission (UGC) of Sri Lanka advices that the authenticity of all foreign degree awarding institutions should be checked ( against the international directory published by Association of Commonwealth Universities ( or the International Association of Universities (http:// According to our searches, all but 5 of the foreign degree awarding institutions in the present directory were found in one of the two international directories cited by the UGC. Three of the five missing institutions were checked against the list of universities recognized by the authorities in the respective countries and found to be duly established or registered. Of the other two, the Asian Institute of Technology is an intergovernmental institution of prestige located in Bangkok and, International American University is registered with the California Bureau of Private Post-Secondary Education.

Degree Equivalents are those qualifications that have been recognized by the UGC as entry qualifications for post-graduate degrees (BCS and SLIA higher Diplomas); Recognition by employers according to a 2008 Ministry of Labor Survey (CIMA); wide recognition for PhD studies (Graduateship in Chemistry at the College of Chemical Sciences)

Degrees Awarded: One or more degrees have been awarded under the program in 2010 or 2011

Degrees Equivalents Awarded: One or more degree-equivalents have been awarded under the program for in 2010 or 2011

Enrollments Only: Degrees not awarded yet but students are enrolled for 2010/11 or 2011/12

Field of Study: Used the categories as defined by the statistics unit of the UGC but we pulled out following disciplines from the main categories because of their emerging importance (in private higher education (Design, Education, Nursing, Psychology, Statistics, Textile Technology)

New Program: Advertised but no enrolments yet

Public-Non-UGC: Public institutions for which admissions are not mediated by the UGC and enrollments are open to all students meeting institution specific criteria.

There are 10 institutions in this category, namely, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU); Institute for Agro-Technology and Rural Sciences; Institute of Human Resource Advancement; Institute of Surveying and Mapping; National Institute of Education, National Institute of Business Management (NIBM), Ocean University of Sri Lanka, National Institute of Social Development (NISD), and The Open University of Sri Lanka and and University of Vocational Technology.

Admissions to the Institute for Agro-Technology and Rural Sciences; Institute of Human Resource Advancement; Institute of Surveying and Mapping; National Institute of Education and University of Vocational Technology can be restricted to special categories such as farmers, employed persons, surveyors, teachers and those holding National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) will be admitting civilians for all their programs except the medical degree program starting from the 2012/13 academic year.

UGC: University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka

‡: Notation for Public Non-UG

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