Include IT as part of degree programmes: COPE chair

Tuesday, 5th of September 2023

Health and ICT among top three professions experiencing labour shortages in the world

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) in Parliament requested higher education officials to consider making Information Technology a part of degree programmes and not a supplementary subject. When the University Grants Commission (UGC) was called before the COPE recently, Committee Chairman Prof Ranjith Bandara instructed the UGC to look into the possibilities of including IT in degree programmes – especially for students in the Arts Faculty. “IT should not be a supplementary qualification, [it should be] made compulsory; or else it will meet the same fate as introducing English to universities.

IT and English can be included in the degree programme with credits offered. Students can be awarded a major in their area of study and a minor in IT,” Prof Bandara said. UGC Chairman Prof Sampath Amaratunga said ICT Departments are established in the Arts Faculties of 10 universities. He said SLASSCOM (Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies) has assisted in formulating syllabuses in order to introduce industry-oriented IT courses. Prof Amaratunga said a Rs 400 million World Bank repayment grant will be used to set up fully-equipped IT labs in 15 universities.

He said about 30,000 State university students are studying IT as a supplementary qualification. The COPE instructed the UGC to look into possibilities of inter-faculty value addition, where students in the Arts Faculty can follow an area of study in Management or Science Faculties. “It is time to think of a solution within universities,” Prof Bandara said. The COPE also suggested the Education Ministry conduct a survey on jobs that are in demand; both here and globally. Building and related trades such as material and machinery, health and ICT are among the top three professions experiencing severe labour shortages in the world, he said. “Students in Ordinary Level classes and their parents should be given career and social guidance to make sure they make the right higher education and career choices rather than following their peers,” the COPE Chairman said.

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