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October issue of the SL2College newsletter is out

SL2College is a global community that provides free advice and guidance to Sri Lankan students who wish to pursuer their higher studies abroad & Sri Lanka. SL2College was envisioned in 2005 with the primary goal of helping Sri Lankan students access relevant information that would assist them make informed decisions about their educational goals.
October 2013 issue
Seminars
VOICES 2013
In Sri Lanka, almost every student faces one common challenge after A/Ls - choosing the most suitable pathway in higher education. This decision is a challenging one due to many factors such as personal aspirations, career prospects, and financial capabilities. Additionally, there is the highly commercialized trade-show of higher education courses, diplomas and degrees promoted by third-party educational vendors. The need for credible guidance to surpass the stereotypical options by having a more realistic and practical view on higher education opportunities is strongly felt now than ever before.
SL2College VOICES 2013 strived to achieve just that by bringing prominent learned individuals together to share their views and experiences with the public. SL2College VOICES 2013 was organized by SL2College* and was held on 25th of August at Prof. V.K. Samaranayake Hall at School of Computing, University of Colombo. This one-day conference attracted over 230 attendees from different sectors, including parents, students and university academics.
The day began with the official opening of SL2College VOICES 2013 by the hosts, Arun Dias Bandaranayake, a veteran journalist, and Ms. Dinasha Stephens. Thereafter, the keynote speech was given by Mr. Dian Gomes, group director of MAS holdings, who explained how decisions critical to his academic path contributed towards what he is today. He further discussed the need for commitment to and training for excellence without any expectations of financial reward. Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarna, software engineer and CEO of WSO2, spoke about the resourcefulness of SL2College that can be used as guidance, motivation and information at every step of one’s academic career. He assured the audience that it’s never too late to do what one is passionate about. Drawing from personal experience, Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), stressed the importance of connecting with the world since it is a critical component towards advancing one’s career.
Prof. Ajith De Alwis, Professor at the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Moratuwa, highlighted that career and academic development require continuous training for excellence. He further added that carving a niche for oneself is essential to thrive in today’s competitive markets. A strategist and dramatist, Mr. Arj Wignaraja urged the audience to actively look for opportunities that can convert a passion into a career. Vidya Jothi Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare, Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Peradeniya, remarked on how Sri Lanka has a lot to offer for graduates returning from studying abroad and encouraged the audience to work against the brain drain of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Charitha Ratwatte, Chief Manager of Sustainability at Dialog Axiata PLC, explained how and why he selected his university programs and how learning from failures can lead to better judgment on crafting the next step in one’s career. Dr. Sujata Gamage, Team Leader of the Human Capital Research Program at LIRNEasia, educated the audience on why the legitimacy and track record of a higher education institute should be examined before making a choice. There were question and answer sessions where audience members were actively involved in discussing their concerns with the speakers.
Several prominent organizations that are involved in higher education, such as British Council, The German Academic Exchange Service and Australian Trade Commission discussed the various undergraduate opportunities available in their representative countries. The attendees were served lunch and snacks as the conference proceeded. The day ended with closing remarks from Mr. Nayana Samaranayake, software engineer at Google Inc. and founder of SL2College, reiterating that SL2College should be used as a platform to empower people by guiding them to make smarter decisions in their higher education. He also thanked all the onshore and offshore volunteers for making the event a great success.
The event was endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka, and supported by generous sponsorships from Dialog Axiata PLC and Brandix, Edex Career as the conference partner, Upali newspapers as the official print media partner, Elephant House as the official beverage partner, Virakesari and Metro News as the Tamil media partners, and Digit IT and Readme.lk as digital media partners.
In recognizing the need to resonate “VOICES” island-wide and thereby become the long awaited transformative voice in higher education in Sri Lanka, SL2College will organize similar events in other cities across Sri Lanka, thereby reaching out to a wider audience.
School Seminar Series
SL2College is in the planning stage of launching ‘SL2College School Seminar Series’, which will span over the next three years. This is a project in conjunction with Ministry of Education and the Youth Empowerment Grant Program approved by the Embassy of United States. The goal of this project is to make information on higher education options available to a wide circle of Sri Lankan students all over the country. This project also intends to motivate them for a better higher education career. The first pilot project is targeted to be held in Gampaha.
SL2College is in the planning stage of launching ‘SL2College School Seminar Series’, which will span over the next three years. This is a project in conjunction with Ministry of Education and the Youth Empowerment Grant Program approved by the Embassy of United States. The goal of this project is to make information on higher education options available to a wide circle of Sri Lankan students all over the country. This project also intends to motivate them for a better higher education career. The first pilot project is targeted to be held in Gampaha.
Youth empowerment grant
The U.S. embassy recently awarded Rs. 22.5 million to 18 winners from a pool of over 80 applicants in this year's Youth Empowerment grant competition. SL2College is a proud recipient of this award that will allow us to expand services to rural and underserved schools in the country through a series of seminars. This is a key recognition of SL2College’s services and commitment to improve access to higher education opportunities for Sri Lankan students. The picture was taken at the event where the grant was officially awarded by the U.S. ambassador. Charitha Ratwatte Jr. made a presentation on behalf of SL2College.
Brain Gain
From Left-Madu Ratnayake(Chairman,SLASSCOM and Senior Vice President and General Manager-Virtusa, Kanchana Ambagahawita, Chairperson WorkInSrilanka and Senior Economist, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Anuradha Tennakoon-Director, Co Head SLASSCOM HR/Capacity Forum and Director, Motorola Solutions Lanka Ltd, Sanjiva Weerawarana, Chairman, SL2College and Founder and CEO, WSO2)
Committed to drive Sri Lanka’s brain gain efforts through a collaborative partnership, WorkInSriLanka (workinsrilanka.lk), the dedicated volunteer-based brain gain initiative in Sri Lanka, signed their first MOU with SLASSCOM. SLASSCOM, the Chamber for the ICT industry, facilitates trade and business, propagation of education and employment, and encouragement of research and innovation within the ICT sector by supporting the creation of a progressive national policy framework. WorkInSriLanka, a comprehensive brain gain effort, presently strives to provide information for highly skilled labour who wish to relocate and work in Sri Lanka. It is expected that through this partnership with SLASSCOM, users of the WorkInSriLanka website will:
  • Have a channel linking middle and top level professionals with the ICT industry and organizations that require these specialized skill sets
  • Obtain comprehensive insight into working conditions and job related information in the ICT sector within Sri Lanka for those contemplating to return to their home land.
  • Obtain up to date information on the available job opportunities within the ICT industry
Furthermore, this partnership will also see WorkInSriLanka and SLASSCOM working towards the merging of common goals and implementing brain gain initiatives to help attract people with the required specialization and skills set.
This tie up is the first of many partnership initiatives that WorkInSriLanka plans to sign up for with various professional industries within the island. Through these partnerships, WorkInSrilanka will continue to drive a unified effort with all industries towards improving Sri Lanka's human capital and invites industrial bodies and professionals who wish to further help build this initiative and strengthen the talent pool in Sri Lanka across industries.
Editorial team
The editorial team has, as usual, been consistently publishing in both English & Sinhala print. With the conference having taken place in August, we published articles on Vidusara, Navaliya & The Sunday Observer to both promote it as well as to showcase its success after it took place. Publishing articles on Vidusara has given us the ability to reach a wider audience of students, especially outside of Colombo. Special thanks goes to the Sinhala editorial team for producing articles so frequently.
The Tamil editorial team was quiet for most of the last quarter, and we have stopped publishing on the Weekly Dinakaran. Mohammadu Ramshad recently joined the team, and has taken over the position of editor-in-chief of the Tamil editorial team. We hope to build a strong team, and begin publishing in the Veerakesari towards the end of October.
If you are interested in joining the editorial team, please send an email, with your CV attached, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .'; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text52580); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Team building
SL2College July meetup was held on 11th July, 2013 at the WSO2 premises in Colombo. Marking the success of the event, 30 new volunteers joined the team to contribute their time and effort towards ongoing projects at SL2College.

The evening was lightened and inspired by colloquial speeches by Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarna, Nayana Samaranayake, Sasanka Jayadasa, Rashmika Nawaratne and Kanchana Ambagahawita.
Nayana explained the purpose of the meetup, mentioning that it is important for people to meet physically, network and share thoughts and ideas, since SL2College is more than just a virtual organization. Sanjiva shared his volunteer experiences and explained that though volunteering may not have short term benefits, it gives a person unseen benefits in the long run including great professional networking skills and development that can be put into use in one’s own career.
Sasanka and Rashmika talked about the current projects, and SLEF gave a warm invite to join SL2College. Finally, Kanchana introduced WorkInSriLanka and its value to the Sri Lankan community.
SLEF
The Youth Empowerment Grant will be utilized by SLEF for an island-wide seminar series for school children, over the next three years. The team has studied student requirements, and has had a few discussions with the SL2College admins to plan and set up an initial pilot seminar in Gampaha. In addition, the SLEF Team gave its fullest support to the Voices Conference while continuing with regular work, including the forum maintenance.
Marketing
Ministry of Education Partnership
SL2College achieved a great milestone this quarter by getting endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka. It reflects the gravity of great sacrifices and hard work of all the volunteers at SL2College since its inception. Tilan Wijesooriya negotiated with the relevant officials and was instrumental in the process of obtaining the endorsement from the Ministry.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE), SL2College expects to organize a series of education conferences and workshops for A/Level and O/Level students, immediate school leavers, teachers, and other personnel interested in higher education. The ICT Branch of the MoE will be coordinating the aforesaid education events as we intend to conduct the series of conferences and workshops in all three languages, i.e. Sinhala, Tamil, and English, converging student communities of all the provinces of Sri Lanka and thereby equally providing education and career guidance to students of all nationalities, urban and rural areas in Sri Lanka.

Tilan and the MoE, Rashmika, Navaka and the SLEF team, under the guidance of Nayana, Nishad, Dilini, Kethika, Shanie, Yoshani, and Dilanka, are currently working on a proper and feasible plan for the series of education conferences and workshops. Since we need more and more volunteers to accomplish the tasks, we would like to invite you to join with us and contribute to this national level worthy endeavour.

Official Print Media Sponsorship of Upali Newspapers for SL2College Voices 2013
We would like to express our gratitude to Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Ltd for the generous sponsorship provided for the education conference, SL2College Voices 2013. They published 6 pre-event articles, 4 advertisements, and 3 post-event articles in Sunday Island, The Island, Irida Divaina Sangrahaya, Divaina, Vidusara and Navaliya. Tilan Wijesooriya was instrumental in obtaining the print media sponsorship for the conference.
Research
Survey at Royal College
SL2College research team successfully completed a survey on understanding how students at Royal College can be benefited from services offered by SL2College. This is the pilot version of the survey and the next step is to conduct this survey at ten schools around the country. Teja Tanchangya and Tilan Wijesooriya conducted this survey and are in the process of compiling the data obtained.
Other
Mohamed Anas joined our team last quarter, and has provided us with access to a very useful resource he has been developing- a scholarships database. He has worked with the web team to create a web page on our site, which can be accessed here: http://www.sl2college.org/scholarship-db/ If you know of any scholarship opportunities out there, please add them to the database by filling out this form: links. sl2college.org/scholarship-db-form We expect this page to be of tremendous help to students when making decisions about their higher education.
Meet a team member
Rashmika Nawaratne joined SL2College in March 2012 after hearing about it while studying at Royal College. He is currently in his final year at the University of Moratuwa, completing his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science & Engineering. Rashmika started by volunteering at the SL2C stall at EDEX and being the PM of the SLEF team, and was recently promoted to be the admin of seminars and volunteer/team building. He joined SL2C because he believes it shares the same vision as his- to guide Sri Lankan students to overcome difficulties in the education system. Rashmika believes that in 5 years, SL2C will become the tool every student, teacher, and parent will use when they require guidance regarding higher education opportunities both within Sri Lanka and abroad. And, he would like to see students from every district and ethnic group in Sri Lanka join SL2C as volunteers to make our vision a success. These are some final thoughts he has on SL2C: SL2College is not an organization where you can only provide higher education information to Sri Lankan students; by volunteering for SL2College, people can develop their professional and leadership skills as well.
Editor: Sandunie Liyanagamage

Contributing writers: Nishad Jayasundara, Shanie Liyanagamage, Navaka Navaratne, Rashmika Nawaratne, Nayana Samaranayake, Dilini Warnakulasuriyarachchi, Tilan Wijesooriya

Design editor: Madhura Mendis
Copyright © 2013 SL2College

Studying Medicine in Malaysia


For many Sri Lankan youngsters, studying medicine is a lifelong dream and an ambition they wish to pursue, despite many challenges. Becoming a doctor, however, is a complex and demanding process and is certainly not for the faint-hearted.  SW, currently a third year medical student, at Monash University, Sunway Campus, shares her experiences and opinions on the medical degree program offered at the Monash University, Sunway Campus, the application process and life in Malaysia.


Background
SW completed her London A/Ls in 2010, studying Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. A senior prefect, a member of her school’s Interact club and the president of the Eco-Friendly Society, she was also keen on badminton and regularly participated in inter-house tournaments. After finishing her school career, she decided to pursue her dream of studying medicine and becoming a doctor.

Selecting Monash Sunway
Based on her background research, she found that the MBBS medical degree program offered by the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine of Monash University in Malaysia, was identical to the program offered by Monash University, Australia. Furthermore, students also receive Australian Medical Council Accreditation and accreditation from the Malaysian Medical Council upon graduation. Additionally, several past students have also been able to take their internship posts in Australia, though it is now becoming increasingly difficult to find such posts. Thus, the university does not guarantee students internship placements in Australia and most international students complete their internships in their home country.

Furthermore, tuition fees at the Malaysian campus are lower than that of Monash University, Australia and living costs in Malaysia are also much lower compared to living costs in Melbourne.

The application process
In order to apply to the medical program at Monash, students needed to get 3As on their A/L results and further needed to pass ISAT (International Student Admission Tests) and IELTS (however, IELTS is not compulsory if the student has an A or B in London O/L English). Moreover, students need to perform well in Multiple Mini Interviews, usually conducted in Sri-Lanka by representatives of the university, which are designed to determine if prospective students have the necessary personal qualities to succeed in the medical course.

Once accepted into the program, a letter from the university confirming enrollment and letter directed to the embassy are both required when applying for the student visa. A representative of the university is usually present on arrival in Malaysia, to get international students through airport procedures and immigration the first time. Once the semester begins, international students are supposed to submit their passports for endorsement of a student pass, which has to be renewed every year via the university.

Life in Malaysia
SW says, “being in medicine anywhere around the word is competitive and rather stressful. The transition from school or college to university is rather huge. Within the course every one is smart and are equals. The work load is rather huge and sometimes even overwhelming, but with the help of friends and family and even the seniors it becomes easier to deal with.”

University accommodation was made available on arrival and she was able to settle down immediately. The relatively large Sri Lankan population makes it easier to settle down and there are several events held by Sri Lankan students such as New Year Celebrations. Within the medical faculty, there are usually around five Sri Lankan students every year.

Tuition fees at the university come up to around RM 50,000 (approx. Sri Lankan Rs. 2,000,000) per semester (2 semesters per year). The cost of accommodation at the Sunway Campus is around RM 1000 (approximately Rs. 40,000) per month. The first two years of the course are at the Sunway Campus in Bandar Sunway, while the clinical years (from third year onwards) are at the Clinical School and Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru. During clinical years, it is generally helpful to learn a little Malay or Tamil as it will be useful when conversing with patients since they do not all speak English. 

The course offered is a five- year program which can extend to six, if the student chooses an extra year in research. Following the course, internship posts must be sought after. Despite the challenging coursework, the professors at the university are very helpful and are always willing to lend a hand if a student needs guidance or clarification.

SW says, “medicine is not a simple course so make sure you have genuine interest and determination and ask for advice from anyone who may know details of applying, if you feel lost and confused with the procedure.”

Though the course can be stressful at times, SW feels that if you have genuine interest and determination, it is possible to do well. She feels that the support and encouragement of friends is invaluable and considers the times spent with friends truly priceless.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SL2College. SL2College would like to thank SW for sharing her experience and  Harshi Abeywickreme for compiling the article.

This article was published in the Sunday Observer on the 8th of September 2013

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