30 years of ISP collaboration with Sri Lanka evaluated

Current and former research group leaders and ISP staff gathered in Colombo, 2014, for a follow-up seminar on three decades of research cooperation. From the left: I.M.K Fernando, K.P.S.C. Jayaratne, R. Andersson, T.R. Ariyaratne, M. Åkerblom, P. Sundin, K. Balasubramaniam, V. Arasaratnam, E. Karunanayake, M.A. Careem, B.S.B. Karunaratne, M.A.K.L. Dissanayake, K. Premaratne, K. Tennekoon, and S. Ekanayake. Photo courtesy: Rebecca Andersson


The International Science Programme (ISP), based at Uppsala University, has the task to initiate and support long-term collaboration in research within the Physical Sciences, Chemical Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences with institutions in a number of developing countries. In South Asia, collaboration programmes were run with Sri Lankan institutions during the period 1978-2010, and with Bangladesh programmes are still running. The purpose of the ISP programmes is to increase the research capacity of universities and research institutes, and also encourage regional collaboration amongst countries of the Third World. In the task is also included support to strengthen the local research environments. More information about ISP

Sri Lanka collaboration

The long ISP collaboration with Sri Lanka has recently been evaluated in a report also covering Thailand. The book, written by Rebecca Andersson and Marta Zdravkovic, includes a historical overview, developments and effects of over 30 years of research cooperation. The experiences and present whereabouts of former PhD students and collaborators are also covered. It is entitled ”The International Science Programme in Sri Lanka and Thailand. Three decades of research cooperation” and was published in August 2017. It is available in full-text on the Net, go for it.
In Sri Lanka, four universities were involved - University of Colombo, University of Jaffna, University of Peradeniya, and University of Sri Jayawardenepura. The report shows that a majority of Srilankan researchers being trained as part of ISP programmes came to Sweden on a sandwich basis, in general with a host university in Sweden and with degrees awarded from the home university.

Sandwich mode training

The sandwich mode training is one of the main contributing factors to why many graduates have stayed in their home country after graduation. The continued contact with the home institution throughout the training facilitated the start-up and continuation of graduates’ research back home. Overall, the report summarizes that the ISP supported groups in Sri Lanka have contributed to the society in various ways. There are examples of group leaders and graduates being appointed to government committees, boards or working groups. Some of importance to the development of both physics- and chemistry education and research, as well as to national policy and strategy development. Most research groups covered in the study have continued their activities to various degrees.

Swedish partner universitites

In Sweden the following universitites are involved in ISP activities: Chalmers, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Linköping University, Luleå University of Technology, Lund University, Mälardalen University, Stockholm University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umeå University, University of Gothenburg and Uppsala University. Besides, in the bilateral programmes coordinated by ISP another few universities (apart from all the previously mentioned), namely Karolinska institutet, Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK), Public Health Agency of Sweden, and Örebro University.