Open University of Sri Lanka to fill IT resource gap with online degree

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ECONOMYNEXT – The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) is starting an online bachelor’s degree in information technology to fill a resource gap in the sector where students can earn credits specialising in scarce skills while working, higher education officials said.

“The lack of human resources in Sri Lanka’s IT sector has affected the sector’s development and we were invited by the government to enroll more students to the Open University in order to fill this gap,” OUSL Deputy Dean Ajith Maduraperuma told reporters.

Sampath Amaratunga , Chairman of the government’s University Grants Commission (UGC) which regulates degree programmesin Sri Lanka, said the OUSL is collaborating with the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) to provide a jobs for its students.

Sri Lanka has around 40,000 vacancies in the IT field, therefore students enroll in the program will be offered a job in the IT sector while following the degree program he said.

Students will get up to 12 years to earn credits and complete the degree online while working and can specialise in a major from the second year onward, Madurapperuma said.

“The degree programme is scheduled to have a common first year for all students studying multiple subjects related to IT,” he said.

“In the second year they will be given the chance to select a field to specialise in, such as software engineering, computer science, information technology, Information systems and data science.”

The government has invested Rs 300 million to develop OUSL infrastructure to facilitate the distance learning programme, with the objective of filling some 40,000 vacancies in the field, Amaratunga said.

Last year 300,000 students had sat for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level exam, Sri Lanka’s equivalent of a high school diploma, and 180,000 had passed it. But there were only 41,500 places in government universities, he said.

Madurapperuma said students with three passes in Sri Lanka or London A/Ls could enter the degree progamme.

Students who don’t have the minimum qualifications can enroll in the OUSL foundation programme and through that qualify for the degree programme, he said.

Students whose A/L results are pending may also apply and sit for a qualification exam but will need to provide results of that exam prior to registration.

“The programme will be conducted as a long distance learning programme, providing students the advantage of studying at their own pace,” Maduraperuma said.

The degree needs 133 credit marks during a four year period at a rate of 33-34 credits per year. A student should spend a minimum of 1,500 hours per year to get 33 credits to finish the degree in four years.

Madurapperuma said students who are unable to put in 1,500 hours but can do 750 hours have the opportunity to complete the degree in eight years.

“Students will be given up to 12 years to complete their degree,” he said.

Applications for the programme close on April 11, with selection tests to be held from April 19 to 24. There have been requests from parents for more time until their qualify results are released, and these requests are being considered, officials said. (Colombo/Mar31/2021)

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