The Ocean University of Sri Lanka, the first ever state university for maritime and ocean sciences is going to be upgraded under the financial and technical assistance by the Republic of Korea.

A grant of USD 2.5 million is provided by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to formulate the master plan for the upgrading of the Ocean University and build the capacities of the academics of the university.

The agreement between the two countries for the project was signed by Lee Dong Ku; Country Director of KOICA Sri Lanka Office, R. Ranepura; Secretary to the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training and Priyantha Rathnayake; Director General of the Department of External Resources.

The Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training, Chandima Weereakkody also attended the event.

As an island nation, Sri Lanka is blessed with many oceanic resources such as fish and marine species, beautiful beaches, minerals, and petroleum.

Currently, the country owns 517,000 km2 of Exclusive Economic Zone and is in the process of expanding its boundaries.

The geographical location of the country also provides close proximity to maritime logistics routes linking the Southeast Asian, Middle East and African markets which are advantageous for harbor services and shipping industry.

Although the country is abundant with oceanic resources, the ocean industry is not well developed and the resources are not tapped to its potential. Moreover, the country is lacking in training, education and research capacities to produce skillful labor force to uplift the industry.

By addressing the need for a specialized higher educational institute for maritime and ocean sciences, the government of Sri Lanka established the Ocean University in 2015 replacing the National Institute of Fisheries Nautical Engineering (NIFNE) and sought the financial and technical assistance from the Republic of Korea, one of the leading economy in the world that has well developed blue economy, to upgrade the capacities of the University.

In response to Sri Lanka government’s request, KOICA extensively analyzed various factors such as status and development potential of oceanic industries and their contribution to the national economy, their forward and backward linkages, the stakeholders’ interests and the future market expansion as a whole in several feasibility studies, and then prioritized the areas for principal support in accordance with the Sri Lankan government’s policies for economic growth, employment creation and increasing the foreign exchange earnings.

This project includes a master plan for the upgrading the Ocean University and capacity building program for academics and government officials of Sri Lanka. Korean experts will provide the technical expertise for the master plan development process which includes formulating the academic development road map, developing curriculum for suggested academic programs, and determine equipment plan coupled with the concept drawing for the university. Further, post graduate study opportunities for the academic staff and short term training programs for government official will be provided under the capacity building program. Since Sri Lanka is striving for development in the maritime sector and become the maritime hub in the South Asia, this project can be considered as a significant mile stone in the country’s development path.

The skilled man power resulting from this project will contribute to the sustainable development of the country creating more opportunities out of untapped oceanic resources.

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