Introduction
Higher education is becoming increasingly important for Sri Lankan students. It is no longer only the higher echelons of society that are sending their children to study abroad. There is an emerging middle class, which is striving to give their children an educational advantage. While parents and students value higher education, they are far from happy with what is offered by Sri Lankan universities. Parents with the capacity to choose are increasingly unwilling to send their children to Sri Lankan universities and seek private higher education and overseas educational opportunities with a growing sense of urgency.

Therefore, demand for international education and qualifications continue. In 2003, over 1500 Sri Lankans went to study in the UK. An increasing number of UK Institutions see Sri Lanka as a significant market as they seek to diversify. They are also establishing more courses run jointly with Sri Lankan institutions in country, and/or promoting distance or open learning methods. While the situation remains, parents and students will opt for whatever alternative they can afford.

The majority of these students generally opts for international affiliated colleges or undertakes professional courses such as CIMA, SLIIT, and CIM etc. Details regarding the programmes offered by the private higher education institutes were compiled and are now available to the general public. According to the available information at the QAA Council, the registered number of students in local private higher education institutes in 2004 is around 45,700.

This opportunity has been capitalized by a large number of institutes. The public needs to be protected from irresponsible providers of such programmes. Therefore, it is important to examine the quality in relation to facilities available, staff qualifications etc. in these local and foreign degree programmes conducted in Sri Lanka. Some highlights in the growth in demand for international and local studies are given below for easy reference.

Distribution of Students Enrollment Among Different Providers of Higher Education in 2004

pie chart