Mahapola to set up foreign unis

  • Aimed at raising uni student allowance
  • University villages to be established

By Hiranyada Dewasiri

The Mahapola Trust Fund is planning to facilitate the establishment of foreign universities in Sri Lanka to increase the Mahapola allowances of state university students, The Morning learnt.

Mahapola Trust Fund Director Parakrama Bandara told The Morning yesterday (16) that these for-profit universities, which will be open to both local and foreign students, are still in the planning stage.

“This will enable us to either increase the student allowance to Rs. 7,000 or grant Mahapola scholarships to more low-income students,” Bandara said.

This project will allow global universities to open local branches in specially demarcated university villages around the country with infrastructure and other facilities built using Mahapola funds. In return, the foreign universities will pay a royalty fee of up to 20% of the profit to Mahapola.

Responding to questions about quality assurance, Bandara said: “The quality of these universities and investors will be ensured and this project will not result in opening any substandard universities with minimal facilities.”

University academic quarters are also to be established in parallel to this project, which will generate a separate income for Mahapola through the rent, said Bandara. He added that generating income for Mahapola is the main goal behind this project as “the fund has faced losses due to financial irregularities in the past”.

However, Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) Convener Ven. Rathkarawwe Jinarathana Thera told The Morning that this is an attempt of the Government to launch its agenda of privatising education under the guise of raising funds for Mahapola.

“We want the Mahapola allowance to be increased as was promised prior to elections. But the Government should allocate funds for this,” The thera said.

He said the IUSF is against all forms of private universities, adding that financial irregularities in the Mahapola Trust Fund must be addressed and that relying on privatisation to compensate for such is not the solution.