Dasun Edirisinghe -THE ISLAND REPORTS-Vice Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Prof. Ranjith Senaratne yesterday said that over the past 20 years, the share of Arts students in university admissions had declined rapidly in many developing countries in the region, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh, while the share of the Commerce and Science students had increased. But, it was the other way about in Sri Lanka, he added.
“In Sri Lanka, on the contrary, the share of Arts students has increased from around 10 to 45 per cent while that of Science has decreased from 33.5 to 21.5 per cent between 1992 and 2010, according to a recent study,” he said.
Prof. Senaratne said that in the US, the proportion of undergraduates offering humanities as a major, had declined over the years and it stood at around 8-12 per cent, which was less than half the figure in the 1960s.
The Sri Lankan situation was inimical to national development as it posed social, economic and political issues and needed to be arrested and reversed as soon as possible, he said.
The senior academic said that the current admission policy of the UGC, formulated in 1994, was almost 20 years old. The need for a comprehensive review thereof had been stressed in many academic fora. The UGC had embarked upon this vitally important exercise with wider consultation with key stakeholders. It is expected to complete the exercise within six months, he added.
However, Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena said steps were being taken to increase the percentage of students studying science by 2016, while reducing the percentage of students studying in the Arts stream.
The Ministry expected to increase the percentage of science students to 40 percent while the percentage of arts students would be reduced to 25 percent, he said.
Gunawardena said plans were also underway to increase the percentage of students studying Information Communication Technology to 75 percent.(the Island)