17 May, 2022


Wither Our Universities?

By Garvin Karunaratne

Dr. Garvin Karunaratne

It is lamented that our Universities enjoy very low rankings even among the Asian Universities. In the Quacqarelli Symonds Asian University Rankings – the University of Colombo ranks at 156 and the University of Peradeniya ranks at 242.

It is my attempt to request our Universities to make an attempt to be more useful to our country in the first instance and to the world. Our country is at the moment steeped in debt and so are other Third World Countries. We have all come to a stage where our debts have to be serviced by falling into further debt. Perhaps this is an area that can bring repute and stature to our Universities if only they can try. Can our erudite dons address what is happening to our economy today. If any university can do this task the world will be at their feet.

One method is to develop Courses of Study in Development at graduate and post graduate level for the purpose of equipping graduates with a broad knowledge of development as well as the know how of bringing about development and to build up research in order to arriving at a model of economic development that is particularly suitable for Developing Countries. In other words the latter aim is to build up a new paradigm for development.

Building up a new paradigm for development is a crucial area because the World today has failed in every respect, be it economics or politics. The Third World countries are riddled with debt, the European Countries and even the USA are finding that the designs of development they have hitherto follow cannot bring about prosperity.

It is observed that Third World countries, since  achieving sovereign status  were managing their economies in a self reliant manner, controlling the use of foreign exchange, controlling imports and building up the necessary infrastructure to enable a peasant economy to increase production, etc. till the Seventies, when the IMF introduced its Structural Adjustment Programme and followed free trade – the open liberalized economy, liberalized the use of foreign exchange, abolished  import controls, accepted the private sector as the engine of growth, and when the countries could not make ends meet, advocated the use of loans and the  privatization of State assets, resulting in the present predicament of indebtedness. The countries were slowly but effectively brought under the control of the IMF and the financial institutions of Developed Countries- the creditors. These countries saddled with debt survive by raising more loans in order to pay up their debts. This story is narrated in my most recent publication: How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle & Godages).

Hitherto forays by Universities into Development has been to develop faculties in important disciplines like agriculture. economics etc. There is not a single University that has taken on the mantle of enabling the all development encompassing subjects into one well integrated Faculty of Development. Universities have made a distinct contribution in teaching but forays into the field of development have been marginal. Their main aim has been to teach students and conduct research within their own disciplines, which has been achieved. New inventions in scientific research have also helped corporations and the private sector, which is creditworthy. However though sciences like animal husbandry, agriculture, geography, education and industry have been concentrated on we seemed to have sidetracked and paid less emphasis on equipping the graduates to attend to the total task of bringing about development. Today this is left to be achieved when a graduate gets appointed to a job in development within the Government Sector.

It appears that even the foray of the IMF, since the Seventies, to enforce the concept of the free trade-open economy and liberalization of the use of foreign exchange even when a country does not have the foreign exchange, which is the teaching of Milton Friedman of the Chicago School of Economics, has gone without comment by academics all over the world. It has so happened that it was only after the Third World Countries came to be burdened with foreign debt, devalued currencies, increased poverty and deprivation that many authorities have opened their eyes. Major critics of the IMF happen to be Professor Joseph Stiglitz and Professor Jeffery Sachs. However they too are only critics and have not come up with any alternate model of development. It is important to note that Universities that specially attend to Development Studies like the University of Sussex, the University of East Anglia in the UK have not addressed the inroads of the IMF into the Third World Countries, structuring their economies to make them indebted since the Seventies. Even today there is not a single University in the entire world that has concentrated on the total field of development including the economics underlying the Structural Adjustment Programme of the IMF.

It is my opinion that if a University directly tackles this subject, there will be world acclaim, many graduates from foreign countries will apply to study this subject and the prestige of the University is bound to increase.

It is suggested is that all major disciplines are brought together in teaching aimed at equipping graduates with a complete knowledge of Development in the first instance and applying their knowledge in order to develop practical applications in development projects all aimed at building up a new paradigm for achieving economic development. Students and Faculty will be researching on this subject and their publications will  be acclaimed.

It is hoped that the Peradeniya/Colombo University will take on this mantle to bring about development to a world that is ridden with poverty, unemployment, and inequality – the rich becoming richer, while the rest, the majority, are becoming poor and more deprived. Such an aim is all the more required in the concept of free education up to the graduate level, which is an avowed undertaking of the Government of Sri Lanka. Free higher education can be expected to be adequately funded only if education is totally contributive to development. Teaching in development studies and equipping graduates with the know how to apply themselves to the field of development will immediately be accepted as helping Government Departments that are functioning in the key areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, rural development and the sciences. This would apply not only to Sri Lanka but all countries.

A major breakthrough of academic knowledge into development was the Land Grant Universities in the USA. The aim was to forge a link between higher education and development. In every State a university was established to spearhead development in both conducting research and application of knowledge to bring about development. For instance Michigan State University, a Land Grant University that was mainly established to teach and also to apply academic knowledge to bring about development in the State of Michigan concentrated on the sciences like agriculture and animal husbandry. It also developed studies in Resource Development. The Faculty of Education had studies in Non Formal Education, a term which broadly denotes unstructured education for development. The work involved building up private enterprises as well as cooperative enterprises. The economic prosperity achieved in the USA is ascribed to the work done by Land Grant Universities.

This concept was extended to the Developing Countries by the Michigan State University that provided academic expertise for the Comilla Programme of Rural Development. The Government of Pakistan sought the assistance of the United States to find out the quickest method of bringing about development. The academic expertise was to be provided by Michigan State University. The Government of Pakistan selected the Kotwali Thana(Division) of the Comilla District as a laboratory to find the quickest method of brining about development. A special educational institute, called an Academy was established where a few professors from Michigan State University were posted as experts to advise the Director of the Academy, Dr Akhter Hameed Khan on the programmes and methods that had to be used to enable development. The professors posted were from the areas of international development, resource development, agriculture, animal husbandry and non formal education. This programme began in 1958 and cooperatives was the institution used to enable the participation of the people. Within a decade, this programme enabled the achievement of full employment and doubling the yields of paddy which is a unique record in the annals of economic development.

It is important to note that there is no university where development comes in for concentrated study. Even the University of Manchester which had Community Development as a section in Adult Education has stopped this study. Michigan State University that had Studies in Non Formal Education as a Section within the Faculty of Education, no longer teaches this subject. This happened due to the emphasis given to business management in the past few decades, when studies in business management leading to the MBA became the coveted field.

The major part of the studies can be done by the various Faculties and Post Graduate Institutes of the University. New Disciplines like Community Development and Non Formal Education which are the core strategies that can be used to bring about development have to be initiated within an existing Faculty. Further the practical application of the knowledge taught in every discipline has to be done within the administration of development programmes which is done through the various Government Departments. It is therefore necessary to co opt expertise from the various Departments of the Government.

It is suggested that the University of Peradeniya/Colombo will eventually have a full fledged Faculty of Development that will develop the Course Structure and liaise with other Faculties to obtain the services of expertise in their disciplines. The Universities in Sri Lanka can even pool their resources. This Faculty will be essentially a coordinating body drawing the various disciplines together. However in the initial stages it will be ideal if this task could be attended to by the Vice Chancellor, or a special unit under his direction because the work will involve the coordination of major Faculties and Institutes of Post Graduate Study, comprising major professors who may resent the inroads into their domains by professors of other Faculties.

The following subjects are suggested:

What is Development?

Agriculture in Economic Development

Animal Husbandry in Economic Development

Small Industry in Development

Employment Creation Programmes

History of Development

Strategies for Development(includes Non Formal Education and Community Development)

Geography in Economic Development

Research Methods

Administrative Systems for Development

Institution Building for Development

Secondary Areas for Development(Tourism etc.)

Business Management for Development( Private entrepreneurs & Cooperatives)

Community Economic Development

The Free Trade-Open, Liberalized Economy of the IMF

Industries in Economic Development

Education for Economic Development-Vocational Education

Adult Education in Development

Environment- Green House gases- Climate Change

International Institutes in Development I (United Nations)

Development Concepts:

Sustainable Development, Self Reliance, Import Substitution

Land Reform, Agricultural Credit,

Project Design and Implementation,

Youth Development Programmes

Studies on Development Programmes:

Rural Development in Sri Lanka

Agricultural Marketing (Department for Development of Agricultural Marketing in Sri Lanka, the BULOG in Indonesia)

Community Development Programme of India

TRYSEM and IRDP of India

The Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh

Country Studies:

Sri Lanka, India, Ghana, Tanzania, Philippines, Bangladesh

Pertaining to Sri Lanka

The Rajarata Ancient hydraulic Irrigation System,

Evaluation of Projects

The Economy of the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka

The Economy of the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka

The Economy of the Hill Country of Sri Lanka

The Rural Development Programme.

Small Industries Development Programme

The Divisional Development Councils Programme(1970-1977

Politics in Development

Development Infrastructure for Economic Development

Inflation and methods of controlling inflation

Entrepreneur Guidance(Management)


Poverty Alleviation Programmes

I am certain that it will be possible to attract foreign students and this will be of great importance in obtaining foreign funds. It should be possible to be self financing within a few years, once students all over the world come to know of this new field of comprehensive development studies.

I am certain that there will be ready acceptance by students both in Sri Lanka and overseas for this study in Development and sufficient publicity has to be done both in Sri Lanka as well as overseas in order to attract students. This course of studies can easily become a great foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka.

I can assure anyone that this foray into Development Study can be established successfully. It is something that is required for world development today and any University that succeeds will be amply rewarded in prestige and status among universities

*Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D. Michigan State University, M.A. University of Sri lanka(Peradeniya), Former Government Agent, Matara

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Why Sri lankan universities are still producing ARTS graduates. why there are no combined degrees in wch Commerce plus Science. Certain Arts discioplines are only the special progran to which only a few individuals are recruites. Insted of the arts program all edycated computer science, infomation science like programs. Why the life of lecturers are protected over the lives of hundreds of passing out graduates ?. Why foreign lecturrs are not invited to give to teach at least one sason in their specific field both the thesis and their research work. Simply are the universities still protecting the old boys club ?

    • 1

      Hooray !! SAITM solution expected today and hope it reads as follows:

      1 Govt accepts the role of private sector in university education
      2 There will be private not for profit medical faculties
      3 Minimum standards for medical education will be published
      4 NSBM or SLIIT will take over SAITM
      5 SAITM will be fee levying not for profit entity

      SLMC, GMOA, JVP and Peratugami can go and fly a kite !!

      Solution one year late, but better late than never!

      Well done Yahapalanaya

  • 2

    Why universities with the help of the govt, start retraining programs in which unemployed youth are retriained in short programs to the disciplines that Sri lanka needs. Instead, Ranil wickeamsinghe wants to bring more indians. As they are already educated, they should be able to be educated in a short compact programs which rund faster. LEcturers can to that between seasons or more are hired.

    • 6

      With all due respect to Dr. Karunaratna,
      Your title “Wither our Universities? ” is actually the solution.
      Yes, all our “Universities” should be withered and shut down, then restarted with GOOD local and foreign teachers. AND most importantly, they should charge a reasonable tuition fee so that the students will actually study . That will also keep out the professional “students” who inspire political anarchy in the campuses .

      • 0

        [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words. Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

        • 0

          Editor, If it does not embarras you, the write up ,which had been held back should be published as two commentaries

      • 0

        No, we don’t need any “foreign” teachers. Our country is being ruined by foreigners who want new constitutions, separate states for Tamils, Muslims and colonial left overs, gay marriage, no elephants at Kandy Perahera etc etc. The only thing they don’t talk about is returning the stolen land to Sri Lankan people. To hell with foreigners and the rogues who work for their dollar.

        • 1

          Hi Migs /lanks/ etc.

          What about those Jewish bats in your belfry?

    • 1

      Jimmy oh Jimmy,
      “start retraining programs in which unemployed youth are retriained in short programs to the disciplines that Sri lanka needs. Ranil wickeamsinghe wants to bring more indians.”
      Sri Lanka needs coconut pluckers, welders, electricians, paddy harvesters, carpenters, plumbers,masons. Are your educated Sinhala Buddhists willing to do these jobs? Right now even service stations are manned by Tamils.

  • 7

    Dear G. Karunaratne, Your good intention and good inspiration should be appreciated by all. But mere good intention and good plan alone are not enough. How on earth we are going to pay back loans and interest for the money previous government borrowed from China. It is not fault of China but our leaders who are trapped by greedy of China. Do you know china is buying lands and property everywhere from Brazil to African countries. Its aim is to dominate world economically and militarily: we are victims of modern colonization of china. Do you think that we need mega projects such as Matala air ports and Southern Express way.. I would argue that Northern express way might have been more profitable for Sri Lanka to take all goods from South and bring all goods from North. But, we have some of most stupid leaders who do not listen to experts and academics but they are like dictators when it comes to decision making.. so, All you developmental studies need money and support by governments .. It does not care about it.. your advice would not go that far to ears of leaders. .. I’m not against any notion of sustainable development.. But today, Sri Lanka’s ecology has been greatly damaged by China.. Look how many tones of sands and mud have been moved from some areas to use to Kandy express ways. once it is done we will see more and more flood.. We need roads but we should do it without damaging ecology of this country.. I’m sorry to say China does not care about that.. In china too we see a lot of floods and landslides due to wrong development plans.. We would not leave Sri lanka as it is now for our children. our children will pay a big price for the mistake of our leaders.. I will write a full account of this soon..

  • 1

    For whatever its worth let me make my observation.
    I learnt the old way, – The traditional way of learning. Taught to absorb what the teacher teaches you. Never the right to question.
    Am I a failure? No.
    We all became learned. We gained the ability to adjust and cope up with any situation, even under environs unfamiliar to us. We had the necessary fundamentals ingrained in us. Was there any shortcoming with the traditional way.
    There is nothing permanently ‘modern’. Things change continuously. Modernity is ever under change!
    The rot started when the traditional method was ‘completely’ abandoned to give way for the modern.
    Which of the two ways is better. It is for the educationists to fight. But, our Universities bear judgement.
    I learnt my Times-Table by heart. By wrote memory. I found meaning for the Table as I grew, on my own. (We don’t need to know the reason every-time we learn something new.)
    We are stumbling. We have to take a step backward, to go steady forward.

    • 0

      Am I surprised that I see that no one has passed an opinion on my comment. Not at all. I also notice that there are , as of now, 4 thumbs down. Those who have not commented see no value in my comment. I see that. However, those whose thumbs are down reflect their own inability to grasp my view. And, that validates my position. Thank you.

  • 1

    REGRET: rote not wrote.

  • 3

    Dr. Garvin Karunaratne

    RE: Wither Our Universities?

    “The countries were slowly but effectively brought under the control of the IMF and the financial institutions of Developed Countries- the creditors. These countries saddled with debt survive by raising more loans in order to pay up their debts. This story is narrated in my most recent publication: How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle & Godages).”

    “The economic prosperity achieved in the USA is ascribed to the work done by Land Grant Universities.” plus other technlogy universities like MIT, Caltech etc.

    Thanks, good thoughts and ideas. Education and training will pay dividends, above its cost, if at the end there is an economic value proposition. for the student and the country.,the investor. The overall economic value pr[position is quite good for those in the fields of Science, Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Vet Science, Agriculture and in Business,, but quite low in the social sciences and languages.

    However, a major problem in Sri Lanka is how they study. It is listen to lectures, copy lectures, and reproduced for examinations. There is a gap between learning, thinking and doing. It is a result of the culture and developments of the past that has clearly failed today. What fraction of the university graduates end up being entrepreneurs? There is also the dignity of labor. Sri Lankan students would pursue studies in Pali or social “sciences” rather than being a plumber, an electrician, a mason, or a crane operator, due to cultural constraints. These constraints are mostly not there in the West, and there are many trade schools.

    • 1

      Mr.Amarasiri, It is wrong to blame the IMF. It was our people who went behind the IMF. When you go begging, the lender will try to ensure that his money is paid back That is what happened.
      Read some of the papers published Dr.Garvin Karunaratne in the past and you will realize that the 1977 Govt not only went begging but also deliberately destroyed what was there contributing to the country’s income. Let me emphasize (i) CPC was a profit making institution via the many subsidiaries it had, The subsidiaries were either closed down eg The fertilizer Manufacturing facility, or sold off – the fishing net or materials for nets making factory, That is on the industrial side what about the Agriculture Sugar Corporation was a profit making institution not only by selling sugar and alcohol, they had many more sources of income.The income of 150,000 families in the Uva Province evaporated overnight – when the new govt came in 1977, the Colombo Pavements were full of grapes grown in Jaffna, there was a cotton industry that was being developed at Hambantota Jaffna was supplying the whole country with dry chillies and onions.All these were killed within a few years of 1977.,

      Those were not things on which the IMF has to be blamed. Blame our politicians of the post 1977 ere, not only JRJ but every body.

      • 1

        Upali Wickramasinghe

        “Mr.Amarasiri, It is wrong to blame the IMF. It was our people who went behind the IMF. When you go begging, the lender will try to ensure that his money is paid back That is what happened.”

        “All these were killed within a few years of 1977.,
        Those were not things on which the IMF has to be blamed. Blame our politicians of the post 1977 ere, not only JRJ but every body.”

        Yes, not only JRJ but every body, they went along for self-interest.

        Yes, agree. Our people brought the calamity upon themselves, by using IMF funds on projects that did not pay for itself sufficiently. like what has happened with the Chinese funded project loans.

        It is like four neighbors with no mortgages on their homes. The first one takes a mortgage loan, to start a business, that is marginal or fails, and they are in deep economic trouble, and the bank may foreclose on them. The second neighbor also takes a mortgage loan, invests in a business or other investments, and makes good profits and returns, pays back the mortgage, and is in a better economic position.

        The third neighbor also takes a mortgage loan, invests in the education of the children who pursue fields that are in demand and creates or give value, such as engineering, science, agriculture, medicine, business etc. The children, after graduation, helps the parents pay back the loan. and is in a better economic position.

        The fourth neighbor takes no mortgage loan, manages as best as he can. %he children are given opportunities at a lower level.

        So, the IMF, Chinese and mortgage loans are double edged swords. Caveat emptor, buyer beware.

    • 1

      This time you come up with good idea ..
      No more Islamic research.

      • 1

        Dr NAS

        “This time you come up with good idea ..”
        “No more Islamic research.”

        All are good ideas, but those with self-interest want to protect their turf, do not like it. They include Wahhabi-Salafies, Paras, Politicians, Ulemas, Monks, Priests etc. Just read up on Copernicus, Galileo. Kepler, Newton and the Catholic Church. Today you can read up on evolution and then intelligent design. Unfortunately, they are brainwashed from an early age, and their neurons are hard wired in their brains. Only new neurons that are free from brainwashings can have an effect.

  • 1

    The author makes a very valid point, and I have seen first hand how the major land grant universities have greatly contributed to the prosperity of the various US states. But can we translate that model to Sri Lanka? Will this work in Sri Lanka with the level of corruption and lack of civil framework? Is this what Sri Lanka needs at this juncture?

    In my opinion, the problems in Sri Lanka are more basic and fueled by corrupt leaders, and a poor system of check and balances. Ending the corruption itself should be the primary goal. If the corruption is ended, the rest is easy to fix. What Sri Lanka needs is a new framework of legal system and safeguards with an independent judiciary that is free to uphold the law without interference. Without this foundation of legal framework, all other development efforts will go to waste.

    • 0

      Lanka Don, you are getting at the basics but not the whole truth.The problem is much deeper than that.
      Very few people worry about ethics, ethics of being a responsible citizen, ethics of safe guarding assets owned by the public, ethics of being curteous to ohers ethics of saying thank you, ethics of studying, ethics of being fair with others, ethics of being truthful etc etc. These are not hammered into any body’s head.

      What good does attending Sunday schools do? What Good does listening Bana do? These are empty flow of word that does not help the citizen. The monk at Bana talks about a Nirvana, a Hell, spending billions of years to attain nibbana.What good does these preachings do – Nirvana we never see, hell we never see.Spending eons of years attempting to reach a Nirvana.

      The monks should teach and preach to the students about basic ethics, some of which I have listed.

      The toilets in a ex- Buddhist school, presently govt owned had bee n repaired by a Company as a part of their contribution to the community. Within weeks, I am told, all the commodes were destroyed by dropping rocks on them.

      Bana > What a joke

  • 3

    Proposal to link university education to development needs of the country is important. However, I am not sure whether that can per se lift the status of global university ranking of Colombo or Peradeniya for example. Those are two things. What most universities do in uplifting ranking is to select a particular ranking/s and faithfully follow the criteria. They are quite nuanced with different weightages. It is obvious that some of our universities do not follow such a procedure. I was not aware of such an effort at the University of Colombo before I retired in 2010. The absence of autonomy from the state i.e. UGC, is also an hindrance.
    In linking university education to development, both conceptual and practical experiences are important. While experiences from Sussex or Michigan might be important, lessons also could be drawn from Cuba and China. Obviously, the centre of such an effort should be the upgrading of teaching and research in Economics and Development Studies. The latter is almost non-existent. Parallelly, the upgrading of teaching and research in Agriculture, Science, Labour Studies, Environment, Technology, and particularly Innovation should be undertaken. While I have no particular objection for an Institution incorporating all, it might be more useful and practical to develop them based on the existing faculties and departments in various universities, while splintering of departments might be discouraged.
    What the government can immediately do is to commission certain tasks for the competent universities/faculties/departments to make proposals for necessary areas of planning and development while convening experts in various areas for consultations in national planning and implementation. This should not be picking and choosing of political henchmen for posts.

    • 1

      Laksir Fernando, Do bring the this fact into focus.

      The CISIR, under that designation contributed a lot the industry in SL. The packeted Coconut Milk was one of their products.Some of the Scientists at the CISIR had a fine reputation even outside the country.

      Came the Govt of 1994, the change the name to ITI, killed a well known Brand name- and nothing seems to have happened of any value since then

    • 2

      Laksiri Fernando:-
      Arts Graduates, who are Unemployable, would be better off studying for a Trades Certificate/Diploma, in the Nationally Required Areas of Expertise!

      Universities should think seriously about re-organizing their Curricula to accommodate such Branches of Education.

      If Graduates have the expertise in their Trade of Choice, they could set up their own Businesses, instead of grumbling about the Government not providing them with Jobs!

      Watching Uneducated Politicians doing the Grand, and travelling Overseas at the drop of a Hat, must be frustrating for Graduates who have spent a minimum of Three years studying for an Arts Degree and are still unemployed.

      • 0

        Hamlet, Art graduates are not unemployable.They can be employed beneficially.

        The problem is not in the Subjects per se ( I am a science graduate) Arts is one of the best strains of study. What is lacking the knowledge in English and any other international language and rote studying.

        You and I was not born as a scientist or an economist or as a doctor. We studied. The arts graduates have to learn english.

        One way of persuading them is to make them pay for their University education if not pre enrollment then at post graduation. That will solve most of the problems.

    • 2

      The problem of universities in Sri Lanka is that they teach subjects that are irrelevant to the needs of the country. Universities are opened for political purposes without any planning. It is better to have more polytechnics teaching skills based courses than an infinite number of history, geography and political science course taught in Sinhala which produce streams of unemployable people resulting in frustration of the young. Better just teach English so that the young person than educate himself or at lease find work as a waiter or tour guide than be a frustrated person without job prospects. The best bet he has is shaving his head and joining BBS or becoming a Sinhala politician and swindle the people. So the circus goes on.

  • 2

    This state of deterioration of the standards of Sri Lankan Universities, which once held high standards and respect, is purely because of poor quality students being admitted due to the district basis admission scheme. We cannot boast anymore the cream of the Sri Lankan students are admitted and naturally standard and quality of the graduates then were brilliant.

    Now many if not majority admitted are on this sympathy scheme from districts with poor results and when student of good quality and high results are denied admission to give room for these so called unfortunate students. These students admitted with poor results as low as three simple passes from poor quality schools, I have noticed cannot speak and converse properly, are of poor character, behave like thugs naturally due to bad influence of these schools, location and the people they are influenced from childhood. Surely not their fault but that is what you are now. Certainly all these affect quality of output from the Universities. The Universities are assessed by the standards of the graduates they have produced!

    The district basis has now outlived its purpose and time to abolish it and let all island merit alone decide the admission criteria to various seats of learning in higher education.

    • 0

      Shrikharan: Every time when Tamils come it is pure Tribalism. How about Jaffna Style A/L system ?. You idiot, there are no perfect evaluation systems. Even the three passes from a poor school say the quality of those students (What do you say for the fourth subject, there was no teacher and the student failed only by one mark).. .If you say the lack of english speaking knowledge tht is secondary to getting the proper subject knowledge. English is not the only language, then there are several other languages that can be helpful take advantage in gaining knowledge. don’t think only journals published in english are useeful. You are simply an idiot whose exam results and intelligence are questionable.

      • 2


        I am fully aware of your arrogant style of communication and I don’t stand alone, many here previously have commented. You certainly have a problem. Don’t hide behind your pseudonym and pour out your frustrations which you have endured most likely from your childhood. Best you seek a psychiatric help.

        • 0

          Did you know mr. Softy is a toilet cleaner called Sunil Dahanayaka in Canada?

        • 0

          I would have appriciated very much a proper response to what I said. YOu got hurt the way I addressed you.

      • 0

        Dim JIm,
        “Every time when Tamils come it is pure Tribalism”
        Oh dear, why are you writing porn on CT? CT is not the sort of site you are used to. Maybe you did it by mistake, Jimmy?
        Anyway, please tell us when was the last time you came, and who was with you? Did it hurt?

  • 0

    First elect a set of honest and educated politicians to run this country and the rest will start falling into place.
    We are just going on and on complaining about whats gone berserk all round instead of doing what has to be done, utter waste of time and talent in this country which could be utilized for very fruitful results.

  • 1

    Will the medical faculties in these Universities go under the hammer. As the GMOA says if we consider the welfare and safety of the patients not only the SAITAM but state run medical faculties should also be scrutinized.Over to GMOA.

  • 7

    Dear Sir

    I was once admitted to the Colombo University for a BSc. I chose to go to an American university instead. Why?

    – delays in the course of study ( we finish high school at 19, wait a year to find out if we got into the university, then another 6 months to a year to start the program – ridiculous)

    – ragging – our universities have become the hotbed of S/M with a classist bent

    -the frequent closures and political upheaval in the universities and the consequent disruption of studies

    – curricular shortages in the training of practical skills as opposed to pure theory

    -better recognition of a US credential (at least out side of Sri Lanka)

    -much better employment and advancement options outside of Sri Lanka (in Sri Lanka you need to be politically or otherwise “connected” to get a good job and to advance in that job)

    -I am now a professor at a university in the US.

    This kind of brain drain is a loss to Sri Lanka. But there’s no choice but to improve the economy and the education, if we are to retain the talent within the island, given the vast opportunity out there in the rest of the world for talent.

    • 2

      Sinhalese Buddhist:-
      Totally agree with you. See my comment above. ‘Hamlet’

  • 2

    He needs really psychopathic..
    He needs really to see a Dr soon ..before it gets worse ..
    Sorry for him and his family..people like him we have in Sri Lanka too.

  • 1

    Garvin Karunaratne’s title is ~ “Wither Our Universities?”
    What is the cause of withering? Once withered then what?
    Will make sense if the title is ~ “Whither Our Universities?”
    Ranking Universities is a business on its own.
    It will be found that the ranking bears a relationship to the money spent by the university. Inversely proportional? Roughly yes.
    The ranking thingy came when governments arm-twisted universities to pay their way. This gave an edge to the traditionally rich universities. Other universities took to grant hunting which led to “improved chances of grants if ranking is good” and so on.
    Singapore literally pumped money into universities, merit was used in appointments and in admission and guess where they are? Certainly not withering.
    Successive GoSL used political gains as the sole criterion in creating universities – Kotalawela University was created to cater to armed services in return for loyalty.
    Once created, the universities are left to live on the fund allocated. Money was better spent importing luxury cars for MPs and overseas fact-finding forays.
    UGC has become an arm of the GoSL of the time.
    Unfortunately the bane of Lanka (Corruption, nepotism and culture of impunity) has seeped into universities.
    In spite of all this, Lankan universities are NOT withering.
    A word on the proposed Faculty of Development. The project will need good teachers. Do we have them? Will the endemic nepotism bugger it?
    By the way what is the difference between the MR development and the MS?RW development?
    The Wimal, Dinesh, Vasu Troika will ask whether the proposal has had the approval of the Sanga. Do you see the politics Garvin?
    PS: Food for thought from a layman who knows very little on aspects of tertiary education.

  • 6

    What is needed is not stupid development studies but a lot of science, agriculture and engineering graduates who can do good to the country and reintroduction of English as a medium of instruction. The lecturers in the universities hardly know any English to read the most recent texts. So, they have to join in protests about language and religion to keep the people in the same darkness that shrouds them. The Malaysians have realized their folly. They now teach in English. This stupidity is the result of the Mahavamsa mentality. You can remain at the bottom of the rankings if you continue to believe in the superiority of your own race. Then you can send your women to be screwed by the Arabs and live a good life. Better have more polytechnics like Singapore has and train people to be productive both for local and foreign markets instead of bull-shitting with Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhist Civilization and feeling good by opening universities in every Province. They are just for cheating the young.

  • 5

    Having been an undergraduate student during 1958-1962 at University of Ceylon, Colombo, currently holding a rank of 156, my career ended teaching at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, which is ranked No.1 in the recent rankings of Asian Universities.
    Since I had lived largely away from Sri Lanka after graduation I cannot be expected to fully explain the reasons for the decline of the University over the last sixty years.
    In my opinion the most fundamental reason for the decline was the introduction of ‘Sinhala Only’ in 1956. This brought the emphasis on using Sinhala and Tamil as the medium of instruction thus losing the immense resources available in the English language. Apart from the lack of academic resources for teachers and students, political interferences in student admissions and teaching appointments all contributed to the present sorry state.
    Interestingly, the commentator named ‘sinhalese buddhist’ above, talks about brain amongst other reasons, including disruption to studies by student behaviour and of poor quality of students getting places in the University. This commentator’s choice of pseudonym may have been to emphasise the fact that even the Sinhala Buddhists have been leaving Sri Lanka. What a shame!……..where is SWRD? The brain drain started with Tamils, and with my Professor of Mathematics (though briefly), Professor C. J. Eliezer, a Tamil, departing in 1958 soon after Sinhala only was introduced. He departed to a university in Malaysia and then to a university in Australia.

  • 3

    Recently someone from 150+ ranked University in Asia proposed to get into the graduate school business with the focus of targeting foreign students! The graduate school coordinator even reported to target students from Iran. Then I thought someone should give a reality check to these clueless administrators. I worked with many Iranian graduates and the level of knowledge they get in undergraduate schools at home is exceptional. Their standard is even much better than overrated Indian graduates. SL should study how Iranian University system produces better quality graduates with locally trained staff even though they have been isolated from the West for a long time.

  • 1

    Why our universities are withering? Our school education where students are segregated into Arts and Science is a major drawback. There is no way to produce a graduate with Economics and Mathematics in our system. In the US Economics majors have to a do a major share of Math courses and that is why our economics graduates cannot do Ph.D.s in the USA. Our schools instead of giving a broad education concentrate in more depth in either Arts or Science which is not conducive to follow courses mentioned by Dr. Gavin in this article.
    Of course other factors include appointing political henchmen as VCs, Ragging and the brainwashing of undergraduates.

  • 2

    Whither? Wither? Who cares.

    For all the efforts of our universities, most of the output ends up being subservient to the corrupt and incompetent political masters who call the shots. The smarter ones pack their bags and emigrate.

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