Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Ocean University of Sri Lanka Promises Career in Maritime Industry – Ocean is the Future

The Ocean University of Sri Lanka which is dedicated for the ocean related activities is gaining momentum as a higher educational institute in the country which produces employable youth and knowledge partners.
“As Sri Lanka is an island nation, there are plenty of resources which could be made use of. With the resources in the land extracted to the optimal levels, the only option is the ocean. The Ocean University was set up in this backdrop to cater to the ocean related studies and fishing community to evolve in to other areas of the sector,” Vice Chancellor Ocean University of Sri Lanka Prof. N.P. Ratnayake said.
Offering a wide spectrum of study areas, the University has been an ideal facility to gain knowledge and training in vital aspects of oceanic studies with a promising scope for better future prospects, he said at an interview with Observer Education.
Excerpts:
With a policy to “satisfy students and cadets by providing quality maritime education, training, research and development facilities in fisheries and maritime industry”, the Ocean University focuses on meeting the modern day demand in a field of ocean related endeavours.
The Ocean University was established by the Parliamentary Act No 31 in 2014. The objective of the University is to provide for university education in the field of fisheries, marine sciences maritime technology and allied fields and offer vocational and technical courses of study relating to fisheries and allied fields.
In order to accomplish the key object, there are two major divisions, University Education and Vocational Training Division (VTD). University Education has established the degree courses in B.Sc. in Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, B.Sc. in Marine Engineering, B.Sc. in Transportation Management and Logistics, B.Sc. in Coastal and Marine Resources Management and in the VTD there are 27 training courses, including diploma Courses, certificate courses and short courses. Among these courses, there are courses unique to the Ocean University i.e. Under Water Cutting and Welding, Scuba diving, Life serving, Swimming, out boat Engine Repairing, marine welding, engine rating and Deck rating and we have offer the Continuous Discharge Certificate(CDC) for the relevant courses and the approval of the University Grant Commission for the degrees is a special achievement.
The job market oriented courses are offered in accordance with the international standards and is of high quality. The courses are designed to provide vocational training, targeting skills development and cutting edge technology. There are eight vocational training centres around the country, including in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Tangalle, Negombo, Galle, Batticaloa and Mattakkuliya. These centres produce vocational training in line with NVQ Levels. We are coming in to become one single university under the Korean International Corporation Agency (KOICA) project( KOICA is going to build entire university complex in Colombo 15. It will be completed on December 2022. There will be three faculties: Marine Engineering, Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and Maritime Logistics and Management in a single location with necessary facilities. The study area for Marine Engineering includes ship building, Naval Architecture, Ship Repairing and Maintenance. The country’s shipping industry is expanding with activities in Colombo and Hambantota ports, recording high performances. The country’s location as a super highway has place high importance as strategic ship lines initiated from the Middle East coming towards the country. There is no harbour in between and the next port is in Indonesia. Therefore, Sri Lanka’s position as a maritime hub could be easily established as we have the advantage of an ideal location. Using this great opportunity, there is high potential to develop Sri Lanka transferring into port and logistics hub in the South Asia Region catering skilled manpower and developing infrastructure. It is important to have a critical plan with regard to transport, maritime and logistics development focusing on calibre of persons and resources needed to meet the demand in the sector.
The Fisheries and Ocean Sciences faculty imparts knowledge on fundamentals of ocean to understand the balance between life and physical environment of the ocean. There are 600 students that have followed the courses since the inception of the Ocean University. Around 150 students follow cources annually. The eligibility of students is determined by the Z score, and there is an aptitude test. The degree program spans four years and some of the degrees are three year courses. However, these degrees are not conventional degrees. The students are offered internship of industry training at related institutions, such as Colombo Dockyard, Colombo Port and reputed logistics companies.
The KOICA project to set up a comprehensive university encompassing all the aspects of education and training is expected to expand more opportunities provided by the ocean centered teaching model. The project will start soon and is scheduled to be completed by 2022 December. The investment is US $ 100 to 130 million on Crow Island in Mattakkuliya.
We want to establish a study centre between Jaffna and Negombo. A land from Puttlam has been identified for the purpose. The Ocean University is geared for job generation to solve the unemployment problem by providing ocean related technology and ocean related education. It also attempts to address the environment issues created by the fishing industry, such as pollution and over fishing. It emphasizes on training the skippers for better navigation and fishing capabilities. We have trained about 4,000 skippers regarding the maritime laws and related areas. We also train boat repairing to facilitate in creating self-employment industies.
With the aim of creating self-employment opportunities for graduates, the university focuses on developing cognitive skills and hands-on-experience to enhance the employability of the graduates. We are concentrating more on hands-on-skills regarding technology and diving skills. We have vessels to provide training. Oceanography which focuses on hydro dynamics is also a part of the study program. We are planning to introduce coastal engineering and numerical modeling under the Coastal Resource Management Department to ensure environment balance.
There is a unit among the courses to provide learning experience on scuba diving techniques. A special course has been designed to cover coastal area recreation activities. We also provide community services for the fishing community. When something happens to a vessel, our institute assists them. We have floating staff for the purpose. The Navy also supports our efforts. The Navy support will be sought to repair our vessels too. We have obtained international support in various aspects of oceanic activities. Korea trains our people for fishing while Japan helps us in engine and boat repair work. This has enabled skilled labour migration brining in much needed foreign exchange in to the country. The university provides training in the areas of Continuous Discharge Certification which gives the right to get in to a ship.
The ocean is the future. We need to harness the full potential to move forward. Ocean and tourism are the two key industries for the country’s development. They could be considered as the major economic drivers. We are happy with the support extended by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. We do not have a future without developing a vocational sector. Aqua culture, ornamental fishing, prawn fishing, aquatic fishing, fishing gears are important areas to be consider in ocean related activities. We are at the developing stage with related to these activities. As a university incorporated in 2014, we function in accordance with the government policy in promoting training and education related to the oceanic sphere.

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