Colombo Telegraph

FUTA Clarifies Misconceptions Over Kshanika’s Resignation

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) has today called upon all those who are responsible to put an end to the uncertainty with regard to the leadership of the University Grants Commission.

Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama

Issuing a statement on current situation at the University Grants Commission, the FUTA said;”We also appeal to all concerned to engage constructively and collaboratively with all stakeholders in the university system in resolving problems. We strongly urge the government not to further politicise the university sector by using it as a site for resolving power struggles within different factions. The university system has suffered long enough due to incompetent leadership at various levels and also due to an unprecedented degree of political interference during the past decade. It is time to close the chapter on a decidedly unsavoury past and to move towards a more democratic and transparent future in which the cherished academic principles of academic freedom and university autonomy are valued.”

We publish below the statement in full;

FUTA wishes to clarify certain misconceptions regarding the resignation of the Chairperson of the University Grants Commission that have arisen recently due to various media reports.

The FUTA requested the UGC Chair, Prof Kshanika Hirimburegama to resign due to several critical issues which she has failed to address during her tenure. These include issues of conflict of interest, misuse and abuse of power and directly contributing to the politicisation of the university sector. These issues have been communicated to Prof Hirimburegama several times during the past two years. However, Prof Hirimburegama has consistently failed to respond adequately to the requests made by FUTA to clarify these issues. Consequently, the academic community, has lost confidence in Prof Hirimburegama’s ability to provide leadership to the university system and therefore requested her resignation.

If the government wishes to inquire into these allegations, we most certainly welcome such a move. It is not FUTA’s responsibility to make inquiries into such allegations, it is the responsibility of the government. However, as a responsible trade union, it is FUTA’s obligation to function as a watch dog and to bring to the notice of the relevant authorities instances of wrong doing by those appointed to positions of authority. As a trade union, FUTA will continue to function as a pressure group on behalf of its membership as well as for the advancement of the sector it represents.

Prof Kshanika Hirumburegama, represents for FUTA and its membership, all that was wrong with university administration under the previous regime. Her continued presence at the UGC, sends an extremely negative message to the university community as a whole – eagerly anticipating a change to the dismissive and authoritarian manner in which it was dealt with under the previous regime. It was under Prof Hirumberegama that the UGC deteriorated from an independent body overseeing the administration of the highest academic bodies of this country to a mere political appendage of the previous regime. Therefore, the misrepresentation of FUTA’s call for her resignation, as a form of political victimization by the State Minister of Higher Education is either deliberately mischievous or astoundingly naive.

We call upon all those who are responsible to put an end to the uncertainty with regard to the leadership of the University Grants Commission. We also appeal to all concerned to engage constructively and collaboratively with all stakeholders in the university system in resolving problems. We strongly urge the government not to further politicise the university sector by using it as a site for resolving power struggles within different factions. The university system has suffered long enough due to incompetent leadership at various levels and also due to an unprecedented degree of political interference during the past decade. It is time to close the chapter on a decidedly unsavoury past and to move towards a more democratic and transparent future in which the cherished academic principles of academic freedom and university autonomy are valued.

Sgd

Dr Prabhath Jayasinghe -President and Dr Harini Amarasuriya – Secretary

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