An Echelon Media Company
Friday September 30th, 2022

How SLTC Research University is changing higher education

Natasha Fernando Head of Marketing at SLTC Research University

Education used to be provided by entrepreneurs and religious organizations until governments began to take over. Now in Sri Lanka, as in other parts of the world, private higher education is stepping in to take over from where the state leaves off. As populations balloon and higher education becomes a universal expectation, states have found their resources don’t reach far enough.

Nonstate higher education is seeing a resurgence. However, it often doesn’t offer the same experience to students, industry and society, such as research outputs, a great campus experience and industry-relevant courses, compared to state-supported higher education. SLTC Research University, established in 2014, is changing all that. Natasha Fernando, who heads marketing at SLTC Research University explains.

How is SLTC Research University different from other higher education institutions?

We are a private higher education institution with a vision to create a top globally ranked university in Sri Lanka. For a world-class education and graduate employability, we maintain high academic and teaching standards.

A key differentiator at SLTC Research University is our academic staff, which includes 63 PhD holders. So far only state universities can provide a concentration of such qualified academics. Our student-to-academic staff ratio of 12:1 is one of the best in the country and we aim to maintain that level. SLTC is a research university and that’s borne out by the fact that our faculty’s academic paper publishing ratio, is among the country’s highest. Our curriculum is frequently updated to reflect industry trends.

Can you tell us about the investments in infrastructure?

We’ve invested in outstanding academic infrastructure and a great student experience. SLTC Research University has two campuses. The first is our city campus at Colombo’s Trace City. However, our main residential campus is at Padukka on a sprawling 37 acres where all our lab facilities, an amphitheatre, a 100-bed hostel, out-of-campus lodging and health care facilities are located.

SLTC Research University’s curriculum is diverse. We have several schools (faculties) including ones for science, engineering, IT, technology, music, and the business school. Our campus facilities are a real departure from what students otherwise experience with private higher education institutions often with cramped buildings in Colombo.

Our salubrious facilities allow students to focus on academics in a relaxing environment and access to extracurricular activities. Students who are unable to, or choose not to attend state universities, can now fully experience university life at SLTC.

So how do you ensure academic standards are on par with international standards?

SLTC Research University degrees and courses are affiliated with the top one per cent of global universities, such as the University of Auckland, which is ranked in the top 100 universities of the world. It’s the highest-ranking affiliation of any university in Sri Lanka.

We are also affiliated with Lancaster University in the UK, Lincoln University in New Zealand, Deakin and RMIT universities in Australia, and we signed a partnership with Austria’s Modul University, to offer tourism and hospitality degrees, which we will soon introduce.

What’s the benefit for students of these global university partnerships?

All our programmes make it possible for students to transfer directly to these universities. Specifically, in the Deakin University programmes, students are enrolled with the Deakin curriculum from day one.

So far, we’ve offered 2+2 (two years in Sri Lanka and two years overseas), but this year we will introduce a 1+2 transfer programme following the partnership with Modul University in Vienna. Students following this degree can transfer to Austria after the first year and are eligible for paid internships, opening doors to EU countries. This course is also relatively more affordable than Australian degrees.

In any case, if a student wishes, they can follow the entire course in Sri Lanka and be awarded the degree from SLTC Research University.

How are student admissions done, are there opportunities for merit-based admissions with financial aid?

SLTC Research University offers several scholarships and we have curated programs like the Bachelor of Applied IT, where tuition costs are 540,000 rupees.

One of our primary merit-based scholarship schemes is ENTECH. This scholarship offers up to 60% tuition scholarship for students who have achieved A’s in the local ALs or A* in the London curriculum. We award a 20% of tuition scholarship for each A. This scheme has attracted some of the most academically apt students to SLTC Research University.

To assist students during the economic crisis, we’ve reduced fees on some courses by as much as 20%.

We expect to grow our regional partnerships. Recently we signed an MoU with IIT in Madras. We’ve also received inquiries from students in neighbouring countries like the Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are attracted by SLTC’s residential campus. So, we are currently working on expanding in those areas.