Online university registration and application : Follow instructions in handbook | Sunday Observer

Online university registration and application : Follow instructions in handbook

The online university registration and application system implemented in 2014 by the University Grants Commission has caused much trouble especially for students in rural areas.

The application forms for university admissions can be accessed by logging onto the website The handbooks for this purpose have been issued and students can approach the nearest Nenasala centre to submit their applications online, after studying the handbooks.

Saumya Udeshika from Wellawaya who secured distinctions for all three subjects at the GCE A/L examination in the Arts stream in 2015 was denied university admission. She has been the first student to enter university from her school after a lapse of five years. She says that the University Grants Commission (UGC) claimed that it had not received her online application for registration, which she had sent through a cyber café in a nearby town as she did not have Internet access at home or in her village. “I informed about my plight afterwards to the UGC and this year I got entrance to the Aesthetic Department in the University of Kelaniya. The media should be acclaimed, which helped me to regain what I lost,” she said.

Vice Chairman of the UGC, Prof P.S.M. Gunaratne speaking on this incident said: “The UGC implemented the online registration and application system in 2014. This time it is compulsory to apply and register online. Earlier students were registered with the Universities, but from 2015, registration is initially done with the UGC. There are two components in the online registration system, i.e. the online application and registration. Students have to apply for the University intake online. After they apply we select the appropriate students online so that they have to register themselves online. All the countries are going in for an online system, which is accurate and systematic.”

“Sometimes students applying through paper applications make mistakes and write in illegible handwriting which the computer reads incorrectly. Such mistakes can be reduced and time saved. All developed countries follow this procedure. Only Sri Lanka has a centralised admission system in the world. In other countries, students cannot apply for all the university courses. In Sri Lanka students can apply for any number of courses depending on the subject combination. In UK or Japan, a student can apply only for one University course,” he said.

Prof Gunaratne said, the centralised university admission system is fairer but complicated. “In Sri Lanka a student can apply for 120 courses which does not happen in other countries. Without a computer we cannot run allocations. Data has to be computer fed. The feeding of approximately 75,080 applications to the computer takes a long time and should be checked for its accuracy. When students apply online there is no necessary to recheck as each student fills the application accurately and it is their responsibility to do so. Without a computer system that kind of allocation cannot be managed manually,” he said.

“Now countrywide there are Government IT Centres (e-Nenesalas) and the staff are trained by the UGC. The students who do not have computers can go to one of these centres, study the student handbook and follow the procedure, the staff in those centres will assist. Applications could be made through these centres and the UGC pays them. It costs nothing to the student but it is an income to the centre. If there is no incentive, they will not take it seriously. This time we received more online applications, and the number of mistakes by the applicants is much less now. This is a success story. When it comes to the paper application there are many issues, like postal delays and sometimes we have to call back the applicants for verification,” he said.

Prof Gunaratne said that Saumya’s incident is one in a thousand. “In the paper application system too if the student does not give accurate information it will be denied. In Saumya’s case she has not followed the instructions given in the handbook. A student should divulge a person’s mobile number to which a message will be sent if the procedure has been followed correctly. Also, the printout should be collected from the centre. It is clearly mentioned in the handbook. But Saumya has not done so. If the application is lodged properly into the system, then automatically, she will get a document which should be collected. The student has not studied the rules and regulations and this is not a system mistake. If she was knowledgeable and studied the handbook beforehand she would have lodged the application in the correct way,” he said.

“We did not receive her application so we do not know about her. There was an appeal afterwards. The opportunities were filled by other students. We told Saumya to forward an appeal to the Commission and the Commission considered this matter. This case cannot be highlighted as the failure of the system. This is the failure of the student as she has not followed instructions. She should know that she has to collect a printout from the centre.

The output should be collected. We have 25 IT centres islandwide and any cafe can do this job. We have no issues at the moment with this system. Applications reach us as usual. This time applications have exceeded 80,000 and that is more than last year,” Prof Gunaratne said.

Information Communication Technology teachers at Al- Manar National School, Handessa, say the main problems they have to overcome due to the online university admission is the lack of computer literacy among the students. Since the children are not competent enough to do it by themselves they have to get the support of another. The other problem is the lack of computers and internet facilities especially in the rural areas.

A teacher who helps the students in online university registration believes that the number of registrations should be limited per day as it would help to manage the administration. The teacher pointed out that until this system becomes familiar among the students the UGC should allow both manual and automated application systems.

A parent whose child entered the University last year from Kandy said, “The government has launched projects such as e-Nanesela, ICT centers to boost the ICT skills of the country’s youth. I think the number of these IT centres should be increased. The people should be educated on IT skills and made aware about these centres. There are many who are not even aware that such centres exist.

The world is becoming technologically advanced, so this online system is really good. It saves time, it is quick, automatic and paperless. This system is followed in many countries.”

She further said, there are poor students in rural areas who cannot afford to buy computers or laptops with Internet facilities but this is a different issue not related to the recently introduced online system. “Saumya has not had the facility at home so she has lodged an application from an internet cafe outside. Some children even though they pass out well, have limited knowledge in IT skills.

I think it is because they do not have access to computers. I am sure Saumya will be given a just solution by the UGC,” she said.

The girl who topped A/L Arts stream from Kandy Girls’ High School in 2016, Radhini Gawarammana said, “As a student who checked the results of my scholarship, O/L and A/L examinations online, I think it is important that related tasks like applying for university are carried out via the internet. It is quick and easy, and it puts us on the technological path that most countries have turned to.

However, educating everyone on the use of IT is important. If all Sri Lankans become adept at using modern technology, then mishaps are less likely to occur.”