The Jaffna University Employees Union has written to the newly appointed UGC Chairman Professor Mohan de Silva, requesting a comprehensive inquiry into the unlawful conduct of the university administration.
This is not the first instance of such complaints being made against the administration ; academics too have been repeatedly highlighting issues in the conduct of the university administration, urging both the former regime and the present government to take action against the malpractices committed by the university administration officials including the Vice-Chancellor.
In their letter to the UGC Chairman, the JUEU President S Thangarajah has listed out malpractices that have been committed by the university administration to which includes the recruitment of non-academics, tampering with the selection process for staff due to political affiliations under the influence of the former Higher Education Minister SB Dissanayake, appointment of individuals who have failed the recruitment examinations, lowering the minimum marks set for the selection process to facilitate the appointment of preferred candidates listed out by political parties, cancellation the employment registration and the arbitrary termination of casual and daily wage employees.
The JUEU has also accused the administration of engaging in favoritism and being partial in the placement of new appointees to the various departments of the university.
Below we publish the letter in full:
Prof Mohan de Silva,
University Grants Commission
No20, Ward Place,
Comprehensive inquiry into the unlawful conduct of the
University of Jaffna administration
We congratulate you on your appointment as the Chairman/UGC. We are confident that the present Government has chosen the right persons to restore the stature and dignity of the Sri Lankan University system.
We write to bring to your notice the current status of affairs at the University of Jaffna.
(A) Malpractices in Non Academic Recruitments
- Practice of not authenticating certificates
The GCE (O/L) and GCE (A/L) certificate details of newly recruits are not sent to the Department of Examinations, for confirmation. This usual confirmation procedure was abandoned in 2008 due to the influence of the Jaffna based Minister.
- Selection Process cancelled for political reasons
The selected candidates for the post of CAA were not issued appointment letters. This happened in June 2011 and again in September 2012. In both occasions candidates were selected from the list of names sent by Ministry of Higher Education by a written examination followed by a practical examination and an interview. After a substantial delay we were informed that the whole selection process was cancelled. Although the line Ministry did not disclose the reason for cancellation of the selection process we reliably came to know that the Jaffna based Minister had influenced the Minister of Higher Education to engage in this unlawful act since none of his recommended candidates had successfully passed the examinations. This happened to the clerk recruitment procedure also.
- Appointment for those failed in the recruitment exams
In 2014, candidates who failed in the recruitment written examination were appointed as clerks.
We appealed to the Council, requested the internal members to at least echo their dissent against this shameful malpractice but our efforts went in vain. Only one Dean recorded his dissent. Another Dean and a senate nominee absented themselves from attending that council meeting. This incident was a stark reminder as to the influence of the Jaffna based minister which surpassed the external members and extended to the internal members.
- Minimum Marks for selection lowered.
In 2009 and in later years the required minimum marks for the selection of CAA, both in the written and the practical were lowered in order to select the preferred candidates of a political party.
- Employment Registration cancelled.
Arrangements had been made in the MHE for those who seek employment in the universities to register the names in the Ministry. When the non- academic vacancies arise in the universities MHE sends the name list to the respective university and in turn university sends application forms to their addresses. But In our university this list is sent to the Jaffna based Minister for his approval. The names not ‘approved’ by the Jaffna based Minister were deleted and sent back to MHE to endorse the deletion. After this illegal update to the new list, the applications were sent to addresses in the new list. In some cases those who submitted the duly filled received applications also complained that they were not called for exam/interview although they had the required qualifications. Later it came to light that their names had been deleted by the Jaffna based minister after the applications were sent out. In effect the Jaffna based Minister kept updating the list as and when it pleased him.
- Selection Procedure completed before the closing date of application
In mid-2013, the university got the name list from MHE to fill labourer vacancies. The letters with annexed application form were sent by the University to the names in the list and the closing date for receiving application was mentioned as 19 July 2013. But uninformed the interviews were held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of July – without informing many applicants who had already applied for the post. We came to know that the Jaffna based minister filtered the list and informed only candidates preferred by his party affiliates. They were asked to come to the party head office and then provided special bus transport to the university to sit for the interview. The affected persons’ complaints went in vain in this case also.
- Terminating casual/daily wages employees
Those who worked in the university for more than six months to one year were terminated from mid-2013. The written instruction of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour (Northern Province) to the University Registrar was also ignored. According to the Labour Law, the Provident fund and Employees Trust fund had to be contributed during their work period. But that was not done
- Favoritism and Partiality
In some cases, the placement of new appointees in different sections of the university were also decided by the political party to which the Jaffna Minister belonged to. This was based on considerations relating to information that the Minister considered necessary in respect of the staff already serving in the branch/department. One female candidate, wife of a Jaffna University Lecturer and a mother of two children aged 2 years and 6 years was placed far away in the Vavuniya campus although she worked more than five years in Jaffna University on contract basis at the time of receiving permanent appointment in 2014. We came to know that the reason of this placement was her unwillingness to go to the political party head office like some of the other recruits. She had to work in Vavuniya for nearly an year before being reassigned to Jaffna.
(B) Interference in the day to day Administration & Financial Administration
The political patronage and interference ruins the day to day administration and even has a hand in financial administration of the university. We reliably learn that before the monthly council meeting all external Council members, some Deans and the Vice Chancellor usually meet at the Jaffna minister’s political party head office where the Jaffna based Minister presides the meeting. It is at these meeting that they discuss and decide on council memos. In common parlance within University circles this is referred to as the “pre-council” meeting. The Minister routinely gave instructions as to whom to vote for and how to cast their preferential choice in the election of the Vice Chancellor and Deanship (of the Faculty of Graduate Studies). In the Vice Chancellor election last held, a dummy candidate was introduced to minimize the President’s choice to the Vice Chancellorship to the Minister’s preferred choice.
We humbly request you to order a comprehensive inquiry into all of these said matters. We assure you that we will extend our support and co-operation for such an inquiry that will pave the way for a fresh, honest university administration that will restore the University to its past glory.
If any further information or concrete evidence is required to substantiate the allegations mentioned in the letter we are willing to provide such evidence to your office or to the inquiry committee that you may appoint with regard to this matter.
We are of the opinion that our following Emeritus Professors will be able to assist you in your endeavor to put the university in the right track.
- Prof V. Tharmaratnam
- R. Kumaravadivel
- S.K. Sittrampalam
Wishing you all success.
President Joint Secretary