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NIBM: A State-owned Higher Education Model for Innovation and Sustainability

Sri Lanka has 527 State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) out of which regular information is available nearly for 55. These SOEs accumulate billions of losses annually due to mismanagement. However, NIBM has been a great model of state-owned higher education enterprise in Sri Lanka, which is a home for more than 12,000 students. NIBM as a self-financing institute of the government has invested to build National Innovation Centre (NIC) in 2017, which is again a home for more than 1,000 students who are interested in creative fields. The purpose of setting up of NIC is to introduce new creative degrees in the fields of designs, humanity and data science for which industry demand is soaring with the changes of the world of business. Moreover, NIBM introduced a blended learning system where the delivery of courses is nearly 80 percent online and the balance is to be done in-house. This new learning platform has increased the access of higher education to many with affordable course fees.
Challenges of Higher Education Industry
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island in the South of the Indian subcontinent. Sri Lanka’s higher education sector is growing rapidly. One of the remarkable features of the Sri Lankan education system is education for all, irrespective of social background. As a result, the country has 2ndhighest literacy rate (98.3%) in South Asia.  Sri Lanka has four types of higher education institutes. There are nearly 60 institutes out of which 16 are public universities. Others are fee-earning universities owned by both government and privates sectors.
Public Universities
Private Institutes which offer their own degrees recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of Sri Lanka
Private and Public Institutes which offer degrees in affiliation with Foreign Universities
Professional Institutes
In many of the lower-income countries, there are significant deficits in affordable access and considerable variations in attainment between students from poor and rich households. Government spending on education is often inadequate, and is inefficiently and disproportionately allocated among educational inputs and across all levels, from early childhood to post-secondary education and training. Even if there is adequatefunding, education and training systems are dominated by a business-as-usual approachand, therefore, can be unresponsive emerging labor marketneeds.
What is the best design of an educational and training system which can address theseproblems? Speaking in the broadest terms, there are two models for education systems. In the public model, the government finances education and manages all aspects of basic education, schooling and post-secondary vocational training or higher education. In the private model, the education and training institutions are privately owned, and the userspay the entire cost of tuition—this is the standard design of school system in the private sector. The private model gives parents choices among these institutions, and theseinstitutions have a strong commercial motivation to keep their clients happy. However, in theprivate model, many prospective students are unable to participate due to lack of funds orfor other nonfinancial reasons. It should be noted that quality might vary significantly among private providers. (ADB-2017). Considering the above mentioned factors, NIBM as a model of state owned Enterprises for higher education in Sri Lanka has addressed these issues of quality, access and affordability.
Innovation and Sustainability in Higher Education
Like all industries, education is influenced by forces in its external environment. How to drive innovation in higher education to stay relevant and sustainable is the major question being faced by many universities and educational institiutes in the country. There are a variety of forces impacting colleges and universities today: economic and demographic, financial and ideological. For example, institutions are considering new ways of teaching as well as new ways of conducting and disseminating their research. Major changes are taking palce in the following core functions of higher education.
· Demand and Supply of qualifications
· Delivery Methods: Teaching and Learning
· Assessment methods
· Quality Assurance Systems and
· Transnational Education

Demand, Supply and Transnational
As a result of the developing mismatch between supply and demand specifically due to the changing nature of demand – the relationship between demand for higher education and student numbers is more complex than has ever been. The number of applicants has increased in the past faster than the number of acceptances. Nearly 16% from Advanced level passed students are absorbed by state universities and nearly 20,000 students seeks foreign qualifications in the UK, Australia, USA and in some Asian countries with a colossal loss of 50 billion foreign exchange. The balance is given opportunities in technical and vocational training institutes. NIBM has created a better solution for students who seek foreign qualifications with strong partnership with world-class universities to offer most demanding degrees in Sri Lanka.
Delivery Methods
Several universities worldwide have been offering their courses and programs through the e-learning mode, and this offering is changing the landscape of higher education. Disruptive information and communication technology and Internet technologies have been steadily impacting delivery of education.
Social networks, blogs, YouTube, interactive websites, and integrated handheld communication technologies have taken over face-to-face meeting for learning. Virtual campuses with massive open online courses, such as Coursera deliver virtually every possible course through e -learning. Open online courses have become the norm. Learners are utilising formal and informal learning venues to create competence-based skill sets for higher employability. NIBM has set up a facility for blended learning which is a hybrid of online and face to face learning and NIBM makes plans to use of its regional campuses for this this purpose.
Assessments methods
Universities and higher education institutes still use standardised exams and lectures as part of their teaching practice, and assessment for measuring learning and student achievement. While they have come a long way in diversifying their assessment and evaluation tools, they still generally fall under the headings of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment where as NIBM uses Concept Mapping or Visual representations, Conference and collective presentations and student’s portfolios as new assessment methods to asses the three main domains namely the knowledge, skills and attitudes.

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