MBA aimed at empowering students - Dr. Kodituwakku
Following is a response from Dr.Sarath S. Kodituwakku
(Coordinator/MBA Program, and Chairman, Board of Study in Business
Administration, Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture ,University of
Peradeniya) to the article “Money spinner for ‘unscrupulous’ academics-
which appeared in the Sunday Observer on August 10.
A Rising Star in Management Education in Sri Lanka
The University of Peradeniya has been a pioneer in carving out the
intellectual traditions of Sri Lanka. The relatively new and rapidly
developing Master of Business Administration (MBA) Programme offered by
the Post Graduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA) at Peradeniya— a
premier postgraduate institute of Sri Lanka — is yet another landmark in
The MBA programme is administered by the Board of Study in Business
Administration of the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA),
which was initiated under the Parliamentary Ordinance No.9 of 1979. The
Board of Study in Business Administration was established on the
recommendation of the Council of the University of Peradeniya and the
University Grants Commission.
The MBA programme was initiated in 1998 with just 20 students. It was
the first MBA Programme offered in Sri Lanka outside Colombo, and the
third to be offered by a public university in the country. In its
inception the programme was supported by the University of Stirling (U.K),
with significant input in designing the curriculum.
It was also supported by the Higher Education Link programme of the
Presently, the MBA programme has an annual intake of approximately 50
students through a competitive admissions process (approximately 25% of
applicants are admitted). Its graduates have been distributed globally
across multiple sectors, and have proven their worth as competitors in
the global market.
Despite its humble beginnings and relatively small size to date, the
programme has been classified by independent reviewers as one of the top
MBA programmes in the country.
Strength of the teaching panel and teaching methods: In an era of so
called MBA programmes proliferating throughout the country, the
qualifications, diversity and credibility of the teaching staff is a key
determinant of the value of a programme.
In this respect the MBA programme at Peradeniya is unparalleled. Its
faculty is blessed with a highly qualified teaching staff, both
industry-leading professionals and academics, many of whom have obtained
their academic and professional qualifications from leading institutions
The programme employs a myriad of teaching methods ranging from
lectures to case-based learning, while up-to-date teaching materials are
sourced from leading publishers and institutions worldwide.
Team work is integral to most aspects of the programme and students
are exposed to a rigorous and at times high-pressure environment which
prepares them for high performance careers, post-graduation. The two and
a half year curriculum involves 2 years of coursework followed by a
The dissertation, a key quality assurance measure unique among MBA
programmes offered in Sri Lanka, is intended to ground students and give
them an opportunity to integrate their learnings in a specific real
world application, or to pursue in-depth research in a subject area of
One of the key innovations in the MBA programme is the student-led
MBA Association (MBAA), which significantly empowers students to have
far-reaching impact and influence over the programme.
While initially conceived as a means for students to present a united
front, the MBAA has evolved into an instrument that enables the
Peradeniya MBA programme to be highly competitive and responsive to both
market and student needs, without the need to get mired in the rigid
bureaucracy and financial constraints faced by many other programmes in
Through the revenue generated from membership fees, the MBAA is able
to spearhead and actively improve the programme by promoting its image
externally, upgrading IT infrastructure, managing the procurement and
distribution of textbooks and teaching materials, and organizing various
seminars and workshops for students, among others.
The MBAA also tops up the minimal allowances paid to lecturers by the
state university system to enable the institute to recruit and retain
high quality teaching staff.
In one of its most recent endeavors, the MBAA is launching a
student-led career planning and placement unit, which hopes to enhance
the career prospects of its graduates-a service they hope to extend to
other parts of the university as well over time.
This type of highly pro-active and empowered student organization is
rare in Sri Lanka (and in the world), and has been cited by many who
have reviewed the programme as one of the programme’s key assets. In
essence, the MBAA gives students the power and the real world exposure
to develop, fund, and manage initiatives that can truly transform the
MBA programme, and their professional lives.
Cost of the program:
Many are surprised to note the cost of the MBA programme at
University of Peradeniya. The overall student costs include a total
course fee of Rs.80,000, a library services fee of Rs.15,000 and a
membership fee for the MBA Association of Rs.20,000, plus approximately
Rs.50,000 for text books spread over 2-1/2 years.
This total cost positions the Peradeniya MBA as the lowest cost MBA
programme in the country. Course fees for MBA programmes based out of
other universities in and around Colombo are well over Rs. 300,000. This
cost is well within the reach of prospective students, who are
themselves working professionals.
For future business leaders seeking a well-grounded, rigorous
management education, that will truly give them the skill base to
compete in the global economy, the Peradeniya MBA offers an unparalleled
option, backed by one of the oldest and most respected academic
institutions in the country. An exceptionally high return on investment
is virtually guaranteed!
The MBA programme, of course, is not without its challenges. As it is
based in Kandy, the prospect of a commute to Kandy for weekend classes
proves to be a challenge for some students (many of whom work in
Colombo)-and a factor that discourages potential candidates from
enrolling as well.
In order to overcome this challenge, the Programme is exploring the
possibility of offering an accelerated full-time programme option, where
students can unplug from their jobs, and immerse themselves completely
in the programme for a shorter period of time.
Another key challenge has been the high-bar set by the programme in
terms of quality.
The dissertation in particular has been a difficult hurdle for many
students to pass-and has hindered the “graduation” of many students. In
response, the MBA programme is currently in the process of finalizing a
non-dissertation degree option (MBM) for students who are unable to
complete the dissertation.
The Peradeniya MBA programme is still in its infancy, and has
ambitious growth plans-which will no doubt solidify its position as a
premiere and much-sought-after MBA programme in Sri Lanka and the
The institute will be pursuing potential partnerships with leading
global universities to further enhance the programme’s quality. The
student intake will grow in the future, and the possibility of
sub-specializations in marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, and real
estate are being explored.
The soon-to-launched career center will give the market an effective
avenue to source excellent management talent while increasing the reach
and visibility of the MBA students.
The institution is also exploring opportunities to provide short-term
intensive executive education programmes as well.
The Peradeniya MBA Programme is pursuing a path of continuous
improvement to meet the ever changing demands of global business, and
position its graduates to lead the nation forward. While any new
endeavour will have many critics, the institute is confident of its
future trajectory and will strive to offer the highest quality products
to its target market.
The authors of the article are Dr. Sarath S. Kodithuwakku B.Sc.
Agric. (Peradeniya) MBA (Stir.) PhD (Stir) and Mr. Nayana. N. Mawilmada
B. Arch (Hampton), MCP (MIT), MBA (Harvard), both affiliated with the