Sajith Premadasa, the son of former Sri Lankan President R. Premadasa, was awarded a degree certificate by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as a Bachelor of Science (Economics) in International Relations after sitting only his first year examinations while his father was the President of Sri Lanka, the Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
The London University has given him what is known as an Aegrotat degree on August 01, 1991, the LSE today told Colombo Telegraph. The relevant LSE regulation states: “the candidate may be offered an Aegrotat degree if satisfying the School under Regulation 45 but not recommended for an Honours or Pass degree. The candidate has the right to accept or decline the offer within a reasonable time specified by the School from time to time. In the event that the candidate has re-entered for examinations, the offer will lapse. An Aegrotat degree will be unclassified.” This means that Premadasa’s degree is not even equal to an Ordinary (Pass) degree.
When Colombo Telegraph made enquiries from LSE on October 02, it said, “Our records show that Sajith Premadasa graduated from LSE with an undergraduate degree in international relations in 1989. We do not allow students to graduate who have not completed their course of study.”
Today, however, the LSE confirmed that the former President’s son was given an Aegrotat degree in 1991, and not 1989. The LSE said they had read the Colombo Telegraph story, “Exclusive: Sajith Premadsa Only Has Sick Degrees From UK And US, London Uni Carrying Out Further Investigations” and apologized for giving wrong dates previously and the delayed reply.
In his Facebook page Sajith says; A graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science of the University of London, his degree covered the areas of economics, politics and international relations, an education that served him in good stead later when he launched himself as a grassroot politician.
Speaking to Colombo Telegraph last week, Sajith Premadasa maintained that he completed his degree and that he obtained his degree from the LSE. When questioned in detail, Sajith Premadasa acknowledged that he had only sat for his first year examinations at LSE because he had been sick with measles and then a paralysis of his legs, which prevented him from sitting for further exams.
The aegrotat degree is a British tradition of awarding a degree to a candidate under the presumption that he or she would have satisfied the standard required for that degree, if not for intervening circumstances such as serious ill health or even death. An aegrotat degree is therefore an exemption to the normal definition of a degree as an honours degree with a classification or a pass degree without classification. A British honours degree has the following classifications: first class honours (1st); second class honours, upper division (2:1); second class honours, lower division (2:2); or third class honours (3rd). A pass or ordinary degree has no honours classification. Following the introduction of modern regulations regarding mitigating circumstances, aegrotat degrees are less commonly awarded than they previously were.
Several questions arise in the light of today’s revelations by Colombo Telegraph. Why did the LSE previously state that he graduated in 1989 and why did it maintain that he completed his degree? Why did the LSE change the date of graduation and the story with regard to Sajith Premadasa’s degree after the Colombo Telegraph published its first story? What is the explanation for the discrepancy in the dates of graduation between 1989 and 1991? If as Sajith Premadasa has admitted to Colombo Telegraph, he only sat for his first year exams, then does he qualify for the award of even an aegrotat degree as per the LSE’s regulations reproduced above? If Sajith Premadasa was so seriously ill that he could not sit for any further exams after the first year of his three-year bachelors degree, then how does he claim that his LSE education served him in good stead later when he launched himself as a grassroot politician? Sajith Premadasa has recently expressed his own future presidential ambitions, and in this context, he has also claimed that he entered a masters course in Maryland, but even if he was able to do so with aegrotat degree, how was he able to travel to the US and begin another course of study if he was too sick to properly complete his first degree? “All these issues need to be investigated” an academic told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.
The Colombo Telegraph can also reveal today that Sajith had edited his Facebook page and Wikipedia page after we interviewed him last week. The LSE 2nd of October commented; “Further to your call and this email, this is just to confirm we are carrying out further investigations into our records to establish the exact status of Mr Premadasa. This will require consultation with the University of London, the awarding body at the time, who hold the original records. This may take some time.” When questioned Daniel O’Connor the acting head of press said; “I’m afraid we cannot be certain. We are following this up with the University of London who house the relevant archives.”