The British Council’s South Asia Series brings together policy-makers and influencers to reflect on and debate the challenges and opportunities facing international higher education. It is part of the British Council’s Global Education Dialogues, which facilitates discussions between governments, universities and industry with contributions and fresh perspectives from the British Council’s global network of leading thinkers.
The inaugural session of the South Asia Series was held in Colombo in June 2013. The second session was held in London, followed by sessions in Dubai, and Mumbai, and now the series of education dialogues has returned to Colombo for its fifth and final session.
On Monday, 17 March, the Minister of Higher Education, S. B. Dissanayake, graced the opening ceremony of the fifth session of the South Asia Series, titled ‘Dangerous Demographics: Women, Leadership, and the looming crisis in Higher Education’. The session which ran for two days, focused on the role of women in higher education in terms of the return on investment, their barriers to success, and the best models for talent management in the higher education sector.
A total of 120 participants including 85 foreign delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Oman, Libya, and the UK, and 20 delegates from Sri Lanka, will participate in this session. The participants will include officials from the Ministries of Higher Education of the participating countries, the University Grants Commissions, Vice Chancellors, Deans, Representatives from the corporate sector in South Asia, and Academics and leading researchers representing state universities and private Higher Education Institutions.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister S. B. Dissanayake said, “Having been part of the inaugural session of the British Council’s South Asia Series, which was held in Colombo in June last year, I am delighted that the series has returned to Sri Lanka for its grand finale. These global education dialogues are in line with the Sri Lankan government’s vision of transforming our country into a regional education hub. I thank all delegates for attending and warmly welcome you to the fifth and final session of the South Asia Series 1: Global Education Dialogues. I hope you have an insightful and productive session.”
British Council Country Director Keith Davies said, “It is indeed an honour to host another session of the Global Education Dialogues: South Asia Series, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This in itself is a vote of confidence in the Sri Lankan government’s welcoming approach to international academic discourse and debate and the government's vision of the country as a future regional education hub. Sri Lanka values education highly – for all ages and all sectors of society – and with a female chairperson heading the University Grants Commission and a number of female Vice Chancellors and senior academics, it is the ideal location for the fifth session of the series, which discusses the role of women in Higher Education.”
The University Grants Commission is supporting this particular session of the South Asia Series. Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, Kshanika Hirimburegama, said “As a female, I find the topic of the final session of the South Asia Series of educational dialogues a very interesting one. The topics discussed include the role of women in Higher Education in South Asia, the new leadership paradigm and barriers to success, and the best practice models from South Asia and the UK – topics which I feel are very relevant to Sri Lanka at this point in time.”
British Council Regional Director, Stephan Roman, was also present at the two-day programme.
Discussions that have taken place during the five-part South Asia Series can be followed using the hashtag #EducateSAsia and through the LinkedIn group /South Asia Series.