Triple Jump to the World of Work: New Dynamics for Higher Education integration Into Belt and Road in China & Sri Lanka


One of the striking features of the Sri Lankan education system is the ease of accession to education for everybody. Consequences of such a blueprint are obvious of high level of literacy (98%) across the country and the emancipation of women in society. Sri Lanka undeniably can be pompous  been  highly achieved in the education sphere during  last   period of time since  it is literal that openness to education has created a ladder to mount in the primary and secondary education sector, the same cannot be whispered about the tertiary education sector.To address the increasing craving for education, South Asian countries seek for new models of higher education.Fine remedy is online learning through massive open online courses (MOOCs), which has been popular among learners. To meet future demand South Asia must innovate in MOOCs. Thus, students have no option but fallback on the private sector to quench their thirst for higher knowledge. One belt & one road would be the best panacea for the socio- economic development.

Keywords—Belt & Road, economic development, Higher education, New dynamics


Global enrollment for higher education has augmented dramatically in the past few decades. In 2000, 99.4m students enrolled in higher education institutions. In 2030, research expects this number to rise to 414.2m. South Asia’s dimension of world enrollment has been rapid: the region constituted only 12.15% of global enrollment in 2000, but in 2030 this is foreseen to grow  over 20% . Increasing economy and younger generations ambitiousness  are  continuing driving force for higher education.Enrollment in higher education has fully fledged with an volatile ontogeny across Asia over the last 20 years ( ADB, 2011; World Bank, 2012). South Asia’s universities are already feeling the crush, due to lack of spaces.Large influx of such organizations raise concerns over quality assurance but private universities have been a growing trend in accommodating  these enrollment increases, higher education systems have had to ‘expand out’ by constructing new universities, hiring new faculty members, diversifying delivery mechanisms, and allowing and encouraging the entry of private higher education providers. Historically China has focused on Engineering, Physics and Materials Sciences. In 2008, the focus shifted to Computer Science, replacing Material Sciences in the Top 3 disciplines. China’s publication output has doubled through the years studied. The compound annual growth rate of its publications is 17.8%.Medicine and Agriculture are the main scientific foci in Sri Lanka.The massive ‘open market’ for higher education has  putting the pressure on institutions to find new and sustainable paths of working.Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has dominated discussions about new education models in present years.Higher education in the context of any country is of paramount importance in the economic and its social development,therefore it is along felt necessity to make a noteworthy contribution to both development and change in the country. One Belt One Road  Project has been laying out a strong foundation to long run relationships  with countries that are implicit friendly to China such as Sri Lanka.  After recognizing the magnitude of the problems faced by Sri Lanka , providing financial support and technical aid to Sri Lanka in upgrading higher education with a prime  university qualification, internationally qualified faculty members, industry applicable curriculum with field trips, institutional programmes, and a proportionate education system centralized on both theory and practice.The Knowledge Hub initiative will help to develop Sri Lanka as a destination for investments.It will enhance the national economic development efforts through the development of a skilled and educated workforce and the creation of new employment opportunities New policy initiatives and a reform strategy is being planned and adopted with a view to reforming the system on the basis of both local and global considerations.Over the last decade, Higher Education around the world has faced a number of challenges. In recent years considerable interest has focused on identifying those challenges, opportunities and threats and proposing ways to address them (MoE 2008).

Path to a knowledge–based economy

                The 10 year strategy lays out a vision of Sri Lanka step by step moving towards a knowledge-based economy. It recognizes that in order to do so, Sri Lanka must develop its science and technology, strengthen education, training and skills process and develop high quality human resources to serve the requirements of modernization. It aims to harness global knowledge and apply it to the development of all people and all sectors.Yet, at the same time and somewhat contradictorily, it aims to focus on some selected important sectors to build up information technology, biological technology, new material technology and automation technology. A knowledge based economy is about the application of global knowledge to all economic activity, rather than about the development of certain high-tech industries, such as electronic hardware or software.The future prosperity of Sri Lanka will require a new configuration of skills, abilities and competencies.This will be driven by the widespread availability and use of information and communication technologies, the speed of scientific and technological advancement and accelerating global competition. Sri Lanka’s successful integration with the global economy and its sustained success in international competition will depend increasingly on effective combinations of science, technology and innovation.

Development Towards Skilled Economy

The scene is now set for an accelerated drive for economic development of our country. For Sri Lanka to improve its economy, it is imperative to appreciate the fierce competition that our goods and services have to face in the global market. This demands the infusion of technology and innovation to make our products and services capable of overcoming the competition from goods and services from abroad in the open market. The scientific capability within the country has to be of world standard in the areas that Sri Lanka has the competitive edge, for the goods produced and services provided by our economy to be able to outsell those from other countries.

Whilst the Science and Technology (S&T) policy adopted by the Government in June 2009 identifies the generic S&T capability necessary for Sri Lanka ,it is necessary to specifically focus on the priority needs for rapid economic development in the next five years so as to help double the per capita GDP by the year 2016.By establishing a world class international research and innovation center with the vision of  making Sri Lanka a leader in  Asia as the knowledge hub.

  1. Review of Related Literature

The mid-twentieth century significant advances in Sri Lankan education.

 Education first states that the education system  in Sri Lanka has successful apparent progression during the mid-twentieth century.With the unveiling of free education from the kindergarten to the university, the enlargement of the school system to cope with the emergent of  requirement for education,curricular alteration and infrastructure improvement with state funding enabled the system to make wide strides hereby ensuring universal access to education. This trend was continued with much vigor during the post-breakaway period. The education reform process initiated with the execution of the Special Committee Report in 1943 has been fortified with the antecedent reforms of 1960, 1971, 1981 and lastly with the encompassing package of reforms presented in 1997.

Higher education has exceeded globe with the growth of new information and communication technologies, the role of the universities has been challenged. How to  accommodate the diverse and growing demand for higher education and how to increase the access to higher education as well as to amalgamate the courses to fit to the world of work is a great challenge. Fiscal constraints, financial factors, lack highly advanced science and technology is some of the key factors that hinders higher education sector. With the changing of governments and the elected new government completely ignoring the existing reforms are a pathetic plight in education sector, especially in higher education.

2.4. Emerging Issues and Challenges in Sri Lankan Higher Education

Prominent issues to  be addressed in Higher Education:

  • The need of a  accordant overall policy in admission, medium of instruction and placement             of universities.
  • Intake capacity to should align with  to current prevailing physical recourses.
  • In post graduate levels, there is a dearth of possibility in research
  • Issues of independence, susceptibility building of staff and assist mobilization.
  • Hinders to the harmony of university activities due to misconduct of students and employees

One of the main issues confronting the higher education sector is the limited access to higher education in Sri Lanka. Quality Assurance is a subset of Higher Education. Therefore, major challenges in higher education are common to quality assurance process. Thus, the following challenges can be nidentified in almost all developing countries.

  • Mismatch of University courses with the world of work
  • Quality of courses and study programs in the majority of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are not upto the standard
  • English Language and ICT skills of graduates are less highlighted in the detailed certificates.
  • The lack of a National Qualification Framework with tract between the different types of HEIs, programs and courses.
  • Quality Assurance mechanisms for the whole public and private HE sectors is in sufficient.
  • More than 60% of students enrolled in External Degree Programs(EDPs) with lowest academic results.
  • Quality of HE in lagging regions such as the Northern and Eastern Provinces it is substantially poorer
  • Poor research and knowledge connectedness between HEIs and the industrial and service sectors of the economy.
  • Many countries have built a successful HE system, responsive to the needs of the economy in small and adynamic segment of short technical and job oriented HEIs, which represent a growing alternative to universities
  • In promoting  a favorable environment for a pluralist,multi-ethnicand multi-religious society.

There is a need for HEIs to play a prominent role in the social and cultural life of the country,

The work of the QAAC has given Sri Lanka a leadership role in the Asia Pacific region, as regards the scale and scope of its quality assurance activities at the national level in university first degree programs. The QA process now needs to be broadened and deepened to cover external degree programs, postgraduate degrees, the alternative higher education sector,  and open and distance learning.

2.5 Publications

Publications as the route to high rankings Scholarly publications in top-tier international journals are a key ingredient in international university rankings. As might be expected, then, publishing in top-tier international journals is a central feature of the key performance indicators (KPIs) for faculty in China and Sri Lanka. Moreover, graduate students are seen as important contributors to publications, both as they assist in conducting faculty members’ research and publish as part of their graduate programme requirements. In both countries, Master’s and PhD students in selective universities are required to publish their research in journals as a condition of graduation.The challenge facing university officials in both countries is to create an incentive and accountability system capable of harnessing and aligning the energy of faculty members behind national and institutional goals. In both countries, this is accomplished through a system of KPIs. Indeed, the government and universities in both countries employ KPIs as the backbone of their accountability systems and, in both countries, the KPI system is a source of considerable controversy, with strong supporters and strong critics. Supporters argue that raising rankings, publishing and commercializing research are a way to pay back the country for its investment in higher education China’s publication output has doubled through the years studied. The compound annual growth rate of its publications is 17.8%. The barriers to participation in education are common across the region, although some are more persistent and severe in some countries than in others. The barriers relate to the types of disadvantage and marginalization which the groups are experiencing. Besides preventing the enrollment of some children, for others, the barriers impede their retention, learning achievement and full participation in education. The benefits of upgrading the higher education system will only be achieved as prospective students choose to study in Sri Lanka, as agriculture and industry locates in Sri Lanka , and as international investors see the country as offering a high-quality setting for their investment. To this end, it is important to the government that Sri Lankan higher education be widely respected and internationally ranked. To this end, the universities’ interest in gaining international recognition and prestige is more than cosmetic; there are national economic benefits to be gained However, poverty remains one of the most persistent problems facing in higher education in Sri Lanka. In the current budget the allocation for education has increased substantially. Even under conditions of financial contractions Sri Lanka has been able to maintain its educati onal services comparatively at a satisfactory level due to the population transition and the infrastructure development undertaken during the early years.In South Asia all utilized 10% or more of total government expenditure on education during the period 1994-2004, including Nepal (17%), Bhutan (13%) and Sri Lanka (10%).


2.6. Expansion of Higher Education

Stipulation of possibilities for all those who are competent to pursue higher education is basal and it is in demand that such opportunities are configured or created through a multi-sectoral approach. With the speedy global advancement in educational technologies and dynamic socio-governmental demands, choice in the mode of acquisition of such higher education should be world-wide accepted and locally feasible. Although the improvement or creation of a framework for expansion should conform to similar global approaches, trends and needs, the local socio-political background in which such changes are expected to be introduced needs to be considered seriously.


2.7. Cross Border Higher Education & Developing  Linkages.

There are several institutions already operating in and outside Sri Lanka, providing higher education opportunities for Sri Lankan students. Many of them are franchised institutions operating on behalf of a recognized or unrecognized foreign degree awarding institutions. However, there is no legal entity or a regulating body to monitor the functioning of such institutions. There is no clear government policy towards encouraging local students to get enrolled in relevant institutes. The lack of an established authority to recognize the local institutions franchised by the overseas universities is also a problem in this area.

Developing linkages is as important as producing quality graduates from HEIs, as at the end it requires sufficient confidence among employers to entrust work to graduates in their companies and other organizations. Linkages are the results of cementing initial work on relationship building. Since HEIs are expected to build people who would contribute positively to national development, systematic and organized efforts are required from both public and private sectors to achieve these goals.Private sector organizations expect graduate employees to be equipped with broad general knowledge and essential skills required for leadership and problem solving. There is a negative perception of university students due to frequent violence in the universities, ragging, wrong attitudes, lack of social skills, inability to solve problems skilfully, lack of presentation skills and speech, lack of writing skills and poor English language skills. Many university students also seemingly make poor efforts and try to get high results as reflected by lack of attendance at lectures, inept project work and plagiarized tutorial assignments. This is much feared by employers as it can affect productivity at work.These drawbacks make it more difficult for students to adjust to the work culture in the engine of growth. Due to this overall deprivation of students at university, they end up being jobless and the general tendency is to depend on the government to provide jobs. This is even more harmful to an economy with many potential threats than keeping a workforce on welfare.

A major benefit of interaction with outside organizations is to find opportunities for future engagements and securing employment for new graduates with minimal waiting time. These are future employment opportunities. All organizations have an attrition of employees annually, which has to be redressed while expansions and new initiatives require more people. These opportunities could be utilised by HEIs, with systematic efforts to build relations with industry. A systematic approach requires a strategy and a driver for the strategy under the senior management.While acknowledging that HEIs in Sri Lanka have contributed significantly to national development in the past, most discerning critics would find them wanting in this respect at present. The current performance of HEIs is less than satisfactory in all four aspects. The public image of HEIs has deteriorated in recent times. HEIs implement far too few projects that directly benefit the community at large. Major reforms which will have impact on the interaction between universities and the state, the community and the corporate sector are needed to improve the present situation.

Universities frequently work as ivory towers without much sensitivity to the needs of society, and are often criticized for this reason. There is lack of understanding within universities about the knowledge and skills required of their graduates in future employment. It is felt that universities should be more responsive to the needs of society and industry.


China as a host country in supporting Higher Education

An Intelligent Resource Base Support will be given to increase capacities of research staff. A performance-based scheme of rewards will be implemented as a means of motivation. A mechanism will be established in collaboration with the existing research entities to obtain the service of qualified graduates in science and technology more effectively. Curricula of universities and schools will be developed to acquire knowledge on high-tech innovations. Post graduate opportunities will be expanded with the assistance of leading foreign universities and research institutes,schools, and carries out the laws, administrative

3.1. Higher education in China

In China,The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China is the superior education governing body body. It is responsible for carrying out affiliated to laws, regulations, road map and policies of the central government; the planning improvement of the education sector; integration and coordination of educational initiatives and programmes across the nation; maneuvering and guiding education reform countrywide.Higher education in the People’s Republic of China aims to furnish an overview of the education system of China with a absorption on information that is relevant to student admission. As the stipulation of education in a country the size of China is multiple, a complete kind of the education system is not accomplish-able.The Belt and Road initiative will have a positive effect on HE as it encourages internationalization of HE. There is a positive effect on the competitiveness and the economy of the state.  Yet, there are two dimensions that need to be addressed in this process. The first is the social cohesion that might be hindered. And the second is the cultural aspect of internationalization of HE.

Internationalization implies having many international students, however, as stated by Hans de Wit in his misconception in internationalization paper –

the assumption that having many international students equals internationalization is a misconception. He further asserts, that the combination of local and international

students in the lecture-room can make a significant contribution to internationalization, but, having international students is not sufficient in itself.


Integration is an intentional process to create community, by encouraging domestic and international students to engage with each other in ongoing interaction, characterized by mutual respect, responsibility, action, and commitment.

One way of acquiring students with this global competency is to create learning environments that promote and value diversity, as well as to intentionally expose students to multiple and competing perspectives.

Yet, it is important to pay attention to equity aspects of the B&R policy. The contemporary global era and a knowledge-based economy emphasize the importance of higher education (HE). On the one hand, HE is an infrastructure for advancing state competitiveness, and on the other hand, the distribution of attainment affects sustaining its social cohesion. However, the importance of HE might be hindered by a low extent of access, and by stratification.

In addition, internationalization of HE via Belt and Road policy has also an impact on culture. Changing the culture has an impact on social and economic aspect of the country.

Establishing a Modern ‘University of Science and Technology’ as a Partnership Project under Belt & Road.

When firms shift towards high value addition in services, industries, and agricultural sectors with a view to improving efficiency and productivity, there will be an increasing demand from those sectors for IT professionals.Therefore, the ICT sector stands out as one of the potential areas for development and income generation and for job creation in the country. In order to meet this increasing demand for ICT graduates, a new university is planned to be set up as a partnership project with the private sector.This will be a dynamic and modern university, equipped with cutting-edge technology and committed to ICT, and science and technology education.The university will provide world class education within the broad sphere of telecommunications, multimedia, computers, digital art, animation, information technology, software development and science and technology. Market Intelligence Units (MIUs) will be established in each university.These units will collect the information about private sector needs and coordinate with the university management to produce graduates accordingly.The MIUs, in collaboration with the private sector, will facilitate student placement in industry as a part of the degree programme. It will also provide career guidance and counseling for students.

A Knowledge City

The success of transforming Sri Lanka to a Knowledge Hub will greatly depend on the availability of enabling environment and infrastructure to attract prominent international research and education institutions.The concept of a Knowledge City provides an attractive model for private investors in this field. Government will designate a specific area for the proposed city and provide the supportive infrastructure including necessary buildings and service centres while inspiriting international research and education organizations to setup their affiliated institutions in the planned Knowledge City ,this designed incentive packagewill be achieved by careful offering .The city will build a strong partnership with the community by way of generating new job opportunities, helping them to develop their knowledge and serve as a place of mental and physical relaxation.The architectural design of the city will be futuristic and attractive to people.

Promoting Innovation, Research and Development.

Universities and research institutions will be encouraged to increase the quality and quantity of research undertaken, promote innovation, increase the acquisition and diffusion of technology and expand the economic and commercial potential of intellectual capital.This will enable Sri Lanka to effectively use intellectual resources available in universities for economic development.The autonomy and dignity of universities and their governance system will be respected and ensured. Universities are encouraged to generate a substantial amount of financial resources for their activities. A major portion of government funds to universities will be allocated based on their performance.The demand for educated labour will increase continuously over the next decades due to globalization and the changing structure of the national and international economies.Therefore, opportunities will be provided annually to obtain a degree by Distance Education for 20,000 students in the priority list who have passed the A/L examination but have not been selected for university admission. For this purpose, the Open University plans to expand facilities at its regional centres located in various parts of the country for distance education. Courses will be conducted mainly through the internet and video conferencing. A mechanism will be developed to obtain knowledge and skills of the industry professionals in content designing and course delivery.This will make public universities more competitive.

 The New Dynamics for Higher Education with      integration into the Belt and Road.

The One Belt One Road is also designed to cement relationships with countries that are tacitly friendly to China such as Sri Lanka. This will be accomplished primarily through economic incentives such as infrastructure development and trade deals. China will continue to provide financial support and technical assistance to Sri Lanka in promoting maritime cooperation, capacity building, maritime education and training programs. For instance, in China the government’s positive role in coordinating policies, rules and regulations to facilitate trade has resulted in a growth of roads, etc. Technology, ideas and shared values are bringing us closer every day. This has obvious lessons for all who are concerned with international law; as law makers, adjudicators and law professionals, as well as the opinion leaders of tomorrow, our destinies are intertwined.Some universities, for example, need to explore their status as at the same time with

A panoramic range of higher education selections addressable and more flexibility in the ways that students can learn. New business models should centre on the things that each university does best, which will differ greatly. It was exposed that there is an imminent threat to universities in their current situation but if these aging institutions don’t alter, they hazard becoming immaterial. If the future of university education increase questions about the structure, content and appearance of learning environments, universities must cater  to what new formats might work. Universities will need to continue to clasp technology and innovate, be more intelligent and flexible, and keep an open mind to new dymentions forms in provision of education, such as TNE for example, to develop new government revenue streams.

Recommendations for policy,

  • ) There is a great necessity for Chinese planners to define the goals, the stakeholders and the projects of the B & R initiative
  • ) China should share investment risks with the partner countries as there is no guarantee that economic growth will continue.
  • ) Demonstrating its will to resolve existing disputes in a peaceful and legal manner and to pursue joint development China should improve position in the neighborhood
  • ) However, the Initiative also faces very broad obstacles, regarding demand of central coordination mechanism, potential clash of various political authorities and notion and commercial enterprise of cross-border projects China should modify its relations with the big powers, promoting its national curiosity in an internationally accepted way and focusing on cooperation.

There is a probability that the competitive initiative of China and the United States will asset to regional cube and a dissolution of trade, but it is more likely that American competitor will lead to strengthened institutions and profound assemblage throughout Asia-Pacific.

Contemporary higher education in the world and especially in developing countries faces many challenges. Access to higher education, quality, relevancy and affordability are the major challenges in the developing world. In the other hand realizing that the higher education provides both the knowledge and innovation bases for the solving most human and social problem, we should be conscious about the views for the new higher education for the 21st century.We think that the crucial regional issues such as globalization and the brain drain, the impact of ranking on institutional aspiration and practices, student activism, and social justice, decolonizing the curriculum, the importance of partnerships, funding and affordability can be efficiently tackled by the  Belt and Road Initiative.B&R initiative in higher education requires clear vision and objectives for the new higher education in the B&R. Looking to the challenges in the world from one side and realizing the efficient role of higher education in term of providing the knowledge and innovation basis for the solving these challenges, there should be very clear visionary status for the B&R initiatives. Many of the participating countries have national strategies for their higher education. These strategies could be harmonized in a view to follow the identified needs of the new higher education. But, we would like to stress again on the importance of the defined objectives and visions for the B&R higher education.



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[2] Anon (2013), Sri Lanka Qualifications Framework, Ministry of Higher Education. P.49.

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[7] Connecting universities: Future models of higher education Analysing innovative         models   for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (2015)An Economist Intelligence Unit report produced for the British Council January 2015.

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[13] Department of National Planning, Public Investment Programme (2008 – 2011).

[14]  Department of National Planning, Impact of External Assistance Programme on Education 1990-2007 (2010).

[15] Department of National Planning,Ten YearVision – Development Policy       Framework 2006-2016 (Discussion Paper) ( 2006).

[16] Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future (2010), Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future, Manifesto of the President of Sri Lanka.

[17] Ministry of Education (2012) The National Strategic Plan for the General Education Sector, Education Sector Development Framework and Programme (ESDFP) – 2012-2016,            Human Capital Foundation for a Knowledge Economy:Transforming the School Education System, Battaramulla: Policy and Planning Branch, MoE.


[18] The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road: Sino-Sri Lanka Bilateral Maritime Cooperation.

[19] Ministry of Education Sri Lanka. 2008. Education for All Mid-Decade Assessment Report. Colombo, GOSL.

[20] Ministry of Education, Education Sector Development Framework and Programme (2007).

[21] Ministry of Education, School Census, Preliminary  Report (2008).


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