AHEAD – Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development

CINEC Society Linkage Cell

Label code: CSLC

Authority :

  • Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Operation
  • Ministry of Higher Education
  • University Grants Commission
  • The World Bank

Establishment of Core HEI-SL Cell

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AHEAD Program – DOR Guidelines for Proposal Submission

(source:  AHEAD Program – DOR Guidelines for Proposal Submission)

 1. The Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) program will pay heed to expand, diversify and develop the higher education sector in Sri Lanka to drive economic growth through knowledge-based industrial and service sector activity and to produce graduates of global quality.

 2. This program will be financed by the World Bank through Ministry of Higher Education and Highways (MHEH)via the Program-for-Results (PforR) financing instrument. The PforR’s distinctive features include linking of disbursement of funds directly to the achievement of specific program results. AHEAD program will have the following three results areas.

 Results Area One:

Increase Access to Higher Education in priority Areas for Economic Development

 3. Sri Lanka has an under-developed higher education sector which needs to be expanded rapidly to help attain the country’s ambition to achieve fast, equitable growth and UMIC status. With a gross enrollment ratio (GER) of 19 percent in 2013 Sri Lanka is well below UMICs and even LMICs, which have average GERs of 37 percent and 23 percent respectively. Overall Sri Lanka is ranked 91st of 118 countries for higher education participation. Among East Asian countries which Sri Lanka aims to emulate, Indonesia’s GER is 31 percent, Malaysia’s GER is 39 percent, and Thailand’s GER is 51 percent. The country also fares badly in terms of the proportion of higher education students enrolled in subjects of vital importance for economic development, such as the sciences (including medicine), technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The proportion of students is just 17 percent, causing Sri Lanka to be ranked only 79 of 99 countries. For engineering alone, with an enrolment share of 8 percent the country fares even worse at 92 of 103 countries. Sri Lanka needs to urgently increase higher education enrollment with a special focus on degree programs, such as STEM programs, that are important to drive future economic growth through higher value-added industries and services.

 4. Objective of results area 1:

To increase enrolment in higher education programs of strategic importance for economic development.

 Result Area Two:

Improve the Quality of Higher Education

 5. The quality of higher education graduates currently varies sharply. At the high end graduates are globally employable. At the lower end graduates struggle to find suitable employment. These differences reflect sharp variations in the quality of programs and the socio-emotional skills (employability skills) of students. There are also major challenges in terms of inadequately qualified academic staff. Only 45 percent of university academics have Ph.Ds. Well-qualified academics are essential for university teaching and research, and the scarcity of such academics sharply constrains higher education development. Curricula, teaching and learning methods, and assessment systems in a majority of higher education programs have not kept pace with rapidly evolving knowledge, information and technology in advanced and upper-middle income countries.

AHEAD Program – DOR Guidelines for Proposal Submission

 6. Objective of results area 2:

To increase the academic quality of higher education programs.

 Result Area Three:

Promote Research, Development and Innovation

 7. The research output of Sri Lankan universities needs to be increased urgently. Research products from Sri Lankan universities are totally inadequate for an aspiring UMIC. For instance, the number of citations per million inhabitants shows Sri Lanka at 138 position out of 204 countries, which is three times less than Thailand and five times below Malaysia. While South Korea had about 4,500 patents applications per million inhabitants in 2014, Sri Lanka had only 22. The promotion of research is an urgent next step in the development of higher education in the country. First, research is a vital and distinguishing mandate of universities. Second, academics engaged in research are more likely to be more up-to-date in their discipline than other academics, and therefore better able to teach the current state of knowledge to students. Third, research and innovation makes a vitally important contribution to economic and social development in the modern world. This benefit is maximized when research outputs lead systematically to practical and relevant applications for economic development.

 8. Objective of results area 3: To develop a culture of research, development and innovation and commercialization (RDIC) in higher education institutions.

Promote Research, Development and Innovation

 9. GoSL currently funds research through a variety of institutions. However, the allocation for research has historically been small, with Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) considerably below 0.25 percent of GDP, which is the lowest category among countries in international classifications. The Government will scale up RDIC resources, with assistance from the Bank operation, to promote academic research and develop research and innovation activities in higher education institutions under three sub-result areas.

 ➢ Sub-Result Area3.1: Promoting academic research

10. The Government strategy is seeking to promote academic research through a system of competitive performance-based research grants. There will be three types of DevelopmentOriented Research (DOR) grants

 • DORs for the STEM subjects. • DORs for the HEMS subjects. • DORs for a combination of STEM-HEMS research.

 ➢ Sub-Result Area3.2: Promoting innovation and commercialization of research

11. The Government strategy is seeking to promote innovation and commercialization of research through a system of competitive performance-based Research, Innovation and Commercialization (RIC) grants. There will be three types of competitive RIC grants

 • RICs for the STEM subjects.

 • RICs for the HEMS subjects. • RICs for a combination of STEM-HEMS research.

12. The DOR and RIC grants will operate at the level of research teams where research teams are defined as a study program, a team drawn from a study program, a team whose members span more than one study program, a team with collaborative researchers from abroad.

13. In all research teams, researchers from a University/Institute under the UGC must be the team leader. Multidisciplinary research teams and collaborations with researchers from aboard are encouraged, however payments for overseas researchers are not allowed under the grant unless they are given a consultancy assignment based in Sri Lanka.. The majority of the researchers in the team must be from Sri Lanka.

14. This document aims to provide Guidelines for the  Proposal Preparation for the DORs. Separate guidelines are provided, for the proposal preparation under the RICs.

15. Grants will be made available in two rounds, the first round commencing in 201