NHEDC bill to be submitted to Parliament

Wednesday, 20th of March 2024

The proposed Bill to establish the National Higher Education Development Commission (NHEDC) replacing the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be submitted to Parliament shortly, State Minister of Higher Education Dr Suren Raghavan said. The Commission will have four branches; with one of them overseeing State-funded universities, while another would oversee 26 non-State universities including the new applications pending. There would also be a branch on quality assurance and accreditation of higher educational institutions across the country.

The establishment of the Commission is part of the drive by the Government to introduce educational reforms, Dr Raghavan explained. A parliamentary select committee on educational reforms, headed by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe following consultations with stakeholders – including student unions – submitted its report in July last year. The legal framework is currently being drawn up by a committee headed by former Chief Justice K Sripavan. Minister Raghavan said that he was confident that the Commission could be established within the year. “The UGC has been looking largely into the administration aspect which includes circulars, financial allocations, recruitment, constructing buildings and supervising.

That has missed the focus on the new education vision. That was not their mandate,” the minister said explaining the proposed reforms. “You see foreign universities operating under affiliated companies. Nobody is monitoring them. We do not know their quality, and therefore we will be bringing them under control. They will have to get a license to operate,” he said. Dr Raghavan said Sri Lanka should be able to attract more foreign students. “The first foreign university directly investing and starting is IIT Madras. There are other groups in India willing to come. There is also a proposal from Andra Pradesh to set up a technical college for Indian and Sri Lankan students here,” he said. He said Sri Lanka has potential of attracting several students from countries in the region including Nepal and Afghanistan.