The government of Sri Lanka announced that it has ambitious plans to set up a special economic zone for international education to attract foreign students to the country.
Sri Lanka hopes to attract foreign and non-resident students to the country by setting up a Board of Investment (BOI) approved “free trade zone” of education to host international universities.
The government is aiming to position Sri Lanka as an international education hub with campuses of world-renowned universities in the trade zone.
The Mirror newspaper reported that the Government of Sri Lanka plans to establish a 500 acre BOI free trade zone for international higher education institutions, which includes universities, technical colleges, and institutions for research.
Incentives in education zone to lure international universities to Sri Lanka
Every year, around 21,000 students leave Sri Lanka to pursue higher education abroad, which results in an annual loss in foreign exchange of Rs. 50 billion, reported EconomyNext.
Based on their global ranking, various international institutions will get tax concessions and will have access to government-funded infrastructure facilities.
Manipal University, one of India’s private universities, is amongst the 10 interested foreign entities.
Mr Bandula Gunawardane, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, told the Mirror: “Depending on the investor preference and availability of infrastructure, we will look at other areas as well outside of Colombo district with the support of BOI. For example, fibre optical cables are a crucial requirement for these foreign high-tech institutes.”
The government’s proposal draws inspiration from the Malaysian Putrajaya City, which was initiated in the 1990s by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, to solidify Malaysia as an educational hub and to increase the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
The World Bank has given some recommendations to Sri Lanka if they wish to achieve the status of an international education hub.
World Bank recommendations for Sri Lanka include a relaxed visa and immigration policy for foreign students as well as allocating special scholarships for international students.
Zahra Hamdani is an Ireland-based reporter for Global Education Times who focuses on European and South Asian education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Zahra is a school-teacher and educationist with experience in both Primary and Secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Pakistan.
You can reach Zahra at email@example.com