The role of especially Higher Education is a major driver of economic development in Sri Lanka. Higher Education in the country is now in a unique position, as Sri Lanka's future in the global knowledge economy depends critically on the country's human capital.
As the country is geared to take off and advance as a fast growing middle income country, it is critically important that Sri Lanka has the human capital needed to compete with the global knowledge economy. Thus Sri Lanka needs a higher education system which can produce skilled, hard working and enterprising graduates. Also the country needs a research an innovation capacity capable of promoting dynamic economic development.
The knowledge hub initiative will help to develop Sri Lanka as a destination for investments in Higher Education and position the nation as a centre of excellence and regional hub for learning and innovation.
The state university sector comprises 15 universities, 7 post graduate institutes and 13 other degree granting universities/ Institutes . The capacity of the state university system is limited and not more than 20% of the 140,000 students who qualify for university education can gain admissions to these Universities.
Sri Lanka has targeted achievement of excellence in higher education by 2020, becoming the most preferred country for higher education in the Asian subcontinent. It will be among the top countries for higher education in Asia. The government has already commenced the formulation of necessary legislation to regulate private sector higher ducation institutes.
While the state university systems perform as the main provider of the university systems, the establishment of private universities will be encouraging the government to attract approximately around 50,000 foreign students to Sri Lanka through proposed private universities. These universities are also expected to absorb, on average the 12,000 Sri Lankan students leaving the country for higher education and thereby protecting foreign exchange savings and earnings.
Leading foreign Universities such as "University of Central Lancashire" (UCLAN), UK and Raffles Education Corporation, Singapore have already committed to invest in Sri Lanka.
The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka is currently in the process of identifying and promoting the FDI that can support the government's objective of making Sri Lanka a "Knowledge Hub"