By Alahan K. Alaharatnam –
Jaffna VC’s Fraudulent Credentials and Lawless Recruitment
Much is written about administrative and financial corruption by the Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna. I would like to express my frustration as a foreign-based Sri Lankan wishing to return and serve but being denied by the present VC the opportunity given by the constitution to all qualified citizens.
Exercising its powers under the Universities Act to formulate schemes of recruitment, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has formulated Circular 721 which gives 4 different categories for non-medical probationary lecturers: i) “a degree with specialization in the relevant subject” with First Class or Second Class Honours (Upper Division), ii) the same as (i) but with Second Class Honours (Lower Division), iii) a degree with specialization without honours, or any other degree with at least Second Class Honours and a 2-year postgraduate degree in the relevant subject with a research component and iv) such other academic or professional qualifications as may be approved by the UGC upon the recommendation of the Higher Educational Institution. Category iii is important to those like myself vying to be Senior Lecturer.
The law, as seen above, allows a broad class of people to apply. A selection committee then selects. But what does the University of Jaffna advertise for its new Engineering Faculty?: “The applicants must be engineering graduates, who successfully completed four years degree program recognized by University Grants Commission and accredited by the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka” (reproduced as advertised without corrections).
This means several qualified people allowed by the UGC cannot apply: 1) No graduate from a top British university because their engineering degrees are of three-year duration, 2) No one from a top Indian, US or other university granting four-year degrees because they are not accredited by IESL (which does not have the resources to accredit most international programs), and 3) No one under category iii or iv explicitly listed by the UGC.
That is, the VC and Registrar who placed the advertisement have colluded to keep out many qualified applicants, perhaps to favour someone they like, or to keep out someone they do not like. They have thereby taken over the powers of the UGC to determine schemes of recruitment and of the selection committee to select applicants under the schemes of recruitment.
Furthermore, “degree with specialization in the relevant subject” has been broadly interpreted by engineering faculties at Peradenya and Moratuwa using the fact that their engineering degrees are science degrees – Bachelor of the Science of Engineering – to recruit computer scientists to computer engineering, chemistry and applied science graduates to chemical engineering, and physicists to electrical engineering. In fact Jaffna’s physics has in the not too distant past advertised for electrical engineers to teach physics and as I recall made an offer. Peradenya and Moratuwa have both recruited chartered engineers without postgraduate degrees as senior lecturers. Degree with specialization relevant to the subject of engineering therefore does not necessarily mean an engineering degree.
Following this advertisement a friend with specialization in Material Science and Engineering from Moratuwa went for the forms and was told he cannot apply although his is an engineering degree! I am a computer science graduate whose first degree will never be accredited by IESL. I have my PhD in a computer science topic through an electrical engineering department like many senior lecturers in computer science in Jaffna. I have had to show competency in 4 core electrical areas at undergraduate level and do 36 postgraduate course credits for my electrical PhD. But I cannot apply for a senior lecturer’s position in either electrical/computer engineering or computer science by Jaffna’s new rules.
I decided I would apply and see any way since the VC and Registrar who framed the advertisement cannot exclude certain categories although a selection committee might have the power to prefer applicants with some specialities. The advertisement stated that I may send a postal order for Rs 100 for the application form or alternatively download it from www.jfn.ac.lk/vacancies.php. The advertisement having been dated 2 October 2014 with closing dates of 17 and 30 October for posts at my level, my only option was to download.
For that too I was asked to send Rs. 100 with my application. For posting me the form I understand the charge but I do not know to meet what expense when I download the form. Does the UGC not fund the university to make it earn money like this? It makes the university sound rather cheap.
But when I went to the advertised URL to download the form, the form could not be found. As such I could not even apply for an instructor’s position because I could not get the forms from abroad in time.
University of Jaffna’s new engineering faculty has few qualified staff. This is clear from the advertisement which states: “The candidates for Temporary Instructor are expected to conduct the first year engineering laboratories covering all specializations of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Process Engineering and they should be able to help to design the second year level experiments in the same area of specializations.” How can, say, a B.Sc. civil engineer teach electrical? When they are so short of staff, why prevent many qualified persons from applying? Is this a tutory or a university?
Indeed, the VC herself will not qualify by her own standards in the in a medical faculty without a medical degree. She is keeping out people like me through these devious ways. Colombo Telegraph has highlighted how she kept out many good people. All these positions should be re-advertisements with the proper rules and reasonable closing dates. Those recruited under the advertisement should be terminated and all processing halted.
It is said that the Jaffna VC has a home science degree from India. I do not know but I have seen her VC application where she claims to have a degree in biochemistry. A subject degree is a four-year honours degree as understood in Sri Lanka. No subject degrees at first degree level are issued in India. She has a three-year general degree perhaps with chemistry as one of many subjects. But biochemistry at first degree? She is a fraud. The first page of her CV by which she applied for VC is attached. She should be dismissed for lying in her application. I know that small fry like me would be. Will the UGC allow a VC to get away with it?
Will someone please listen? Before University of Jaffna is irrecoverably destroyed?