Outbound mobility is generally expected to increase in the future, given the country’s robust economic growth, capacity constraints in higher education and demographic pressures (almost 40 percent of Sri Lankans are under 24 years of age).
That said, countervailing factors – especially government support for an increase in the number of private and transnational higher education providers in the country, may alleviate capacity issues and impede that growth at least somewhat.
In 2015, the University of Calgary, for example, set up partnerships with the University of Moratuwa and University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, including scholarships for bi-directional educational exchange.
The University of British Columbia, Carleton University, Concordia University, University of Guelph, Mc Gill University, Ryerson University, University of Toronto and York University have recently also toured in Sri Lanka to promote their programs and recruit international students.
The war and post-war reconstruction efforts also diverted funds away from education.
Partnership programs may make the country a more appealing destination in years to come, however.Other legacy problems remain as well: Language policies, for instance, have reportedly been used as a means of restricting access to education.And although lack of academic freedom is not a substantial issue, Freedom House, an independent, global watchdog organization, has as recently as 2017 documented “occasional reports of politicization in universities and a lack of tolerance for dissenting views by both professors and students, particularly for academics who study Tamil issues.” By most accounts, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka improved noticeably after the surprise election victory of Maithripala Sirisena of the oppositional Sri Lanka Freedom Party in 2015’s presidential election.In 2017, for instance, the country obtained a USD 0 million World Bank loan to expand STEM enrollment and research opportunities at the tertiary level, and to improve the quality of degree programs.Conflict between the ethnic Sinhalese majority, which makes up approximately 75 percent of the population, and the Tamil minority (approximately 11 percent of the population in 2012) simmered throughout the British colonial period (1815-1948) and long after independence, finally culminating in the Sri Lankan Civil War in 1983.