Students in Sri Lanka taking their A levels this month may have to wait three years before being admitted to university.
The youth uprising between 1987-90 led to the closure of universities for nearly two years. Student pressure for hostel accommodation and trade union action by academics and non-academics for more pay aggravated the problem.
Sri Lankan universities are admitting students in "double" batches each year, cutting holidays and holding classes at weekends in order to cut the waiting time.
Students who qualified for admission in 1992 are enrolling only this academic year while students who qualified in 1993 and 1994 must wait. The only way to go straight to university is to go abroad. But this option is only open to the very bright or the wealthy. The majority must wait for more than two years.
An academic at the University of Peradeniya argues that idle students could fall prey to subversive elements. Surprisingly there has not been student unrest or public outcry over the students' plight, he adds. It was "unfortunate" that policy makers and administrators were failing to address the situation.