1 December, 2020

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Producing Chemistry Graduates At Much Lower Cost

By Oleap Fernando

Prof Oleap Fernando

Enhancing the knowledge hub and producing Chemistry graduates at much lower cost to government/UGC without any delay

Recent events and happenings in Sri Lanka’s tertiary education sector have  caused much alarm and consternation. These include the decreasing   contribution to Education from the Government Budget, the inability of the Government to enhance the emoluments of University academic staff, and the  inordinate  delay in students  being admitted to and passing out from Sri Lankan Universities. The latter cause has got aggravated this year due to strikes and other events that have resulted in an over  4 month additional  delay. The University admission list based on the 2011  A/L examination is  not yet released  due to the Z score problem and  the consequential  Supreme Court decision to enhance the University intake by 25% . Compunding the problem, there is an unprecedented  delay in the release of  the 012  A/L results  as well.

In this context, I am writing to bring to the notice of the Sri Lankan educational authorities and the Sri lankan public, a relatively simpler mechanism  to effectively  deal  with the problems associated with tertiary education at least in the field of such a popular and demanding discipline such as Chemistry. Similar examples and experiences may be available and/or similar situations  may be developed and organized in other areas as well.

The College of Chemical Sciences(CCS) , which is the educational arm of the professional body of Chartered Chemists in Sri lanka ( Institute of Chemistry Ceylon , incorporated by Act of Parliament No 15 of 1972)  has since 1979 conducted a Graduateship Programme in Chemistry at the level of a Special (Honours)  Chemistry degree . About 900 Graduate Chemists have passed out with increasing frequency (30 batches so far) and  the current annual pass out number ranging from  75-90 Graduate Chemists  corresponds to as much as  45% of Sri Lanka’s total output of  about 180 Special Degree  level Graduate Chemists  including the output from 6 conventional universities. Graduate Chemists passing out of the College of Chemical Sciences , though not possessing a formal university degree , have been recognized and accepted for PHD/MSc degrees and for employment in many countries right round the world including USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand etc. Our UGC as well as Universities have also accepted the professional Graduate Chemist qualification  awarded by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon .

What is most significant to note  in this connection  is that through this  programme  Graduate Chemists   are produced by the CCS without any delay whatsoever within 4 years of their admission . Admission to the programme is  possible as soon as A/L results are released unlike in the state university system in which the  normal time lag could  be even one year .The cost incurred by a  CCS student is presently in the region  of  only Rs 3.5-4 lakhs over the entire 4 year period which surely must be the lowest cost for a degree level programme of any type  in any part of the world. The quality of the CCS Graduate Chemists is very well recognized and  question papers are moderated and answer scripts remarked by UK professors under the coordination of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK on a regular basis..

Numbers of qualified students seeking admission to the CCS have reached gigantic proportions in the current year and in order to accommodate all who wish to register for this high quality and well recognized programme , the College of Chemical Sciences has decided to run an additional duplicated programme on week-days as well. The state Universities find it impossible to increase the  number of special degree chemists they produce to more than about 100 annually. The  average cost incurred by the government through the UGC to produce a single Graduate Chemist over 4 years  through the state Universities is reported to be around Rs 1.5 – 2 million which is about five times what is needed to educate such a student to a similar level at the CCS. It is  therefore obvious and pellucidly clear that if the Government/UGC  wishes to increase the number of special degree chemists produced in Sri Lanka in a very convenient , effective and economical manner, then one easy method would be for  the UGC is to select a reasonable number of A/L qualified students ( through whatever system it desires and adopts )and send any such willing students who desire and opt for this alternate path to the CCS . The government could thereby  enable  an additional number of students to pursue an equivalent degree level programme at the CCS  at a cost that would be about   20 % of what it now spends at a state university.Particularly, in the current context when the UGC has to take in 25% more students for every programme,  a selected coterie of students  could be admitted by the UGC  using this very convenient opportunity available at the CCS  which is now able to  admit and satisfy an additional number with no difficulty whatsoever. The CCS could take in at least 100 students in January for its week-day programme. Similar opportunities may be available or providable at other institutions and in other  disciplines and areas as well.

The time has come when the educational authorities of Sri Lanka  should think out of the box with a wider horizon and vision and look for similar unconventional opportunities in unconventional institutions in unconventional ways in order to minimise its present problems in an unconventional manner at a very economical cost . This type of alternate mechanisms  should satisfy all stake-holders in a very viable and pragmatic manner.

*Professor J N Oleap Fernando, PH D (Imperial College,London); Chartered Chemist; Chartered Scientist, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, The Open University of Sri Lanka, Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka and Past General President, Sri Lanka  Association for the Advancement of Science and Honorary Rector and Honorary Professor of Chemistry, College of Chemical Sciences, 341/22, Kotte Road, Welikada, Rajagiriya (phone: 011 286 1231)

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    It is a very good program producing very good graduates through a very useful mechanism for those who do not get admitted to the state universities. I might even say that because the students live in Colombo they graduate with better fluency in English than the products of the state

    But Prof. Fernando’s cost argument is incorrect. The College of Chemical Sciences operates using visiting lecturers from the state universities with few full-time staff of its own. The exceptions are a few who are full-time as coordinators in addition to being teachers. If the state universities did not employ the vast pool of visiting lecturers, CCS will not have them available at hourly visiting lecturer salary; instead they would need to be paid what state universities pay them for full-time work plus benefits like office space and sabbatical leave and some more as would be expected for the loss of job security enjoyed in the state sector. Some of them while being employed by the state spend more time at CCS than at their home institutions which effectively pay them to teach at CCS!

    I therefore argue that the CCS model is subsidized by the state and cannot stand by itself.

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      Anon,Prof Fernando raises a valuable point,in my opinion. Students who failed admission into state universities
      (not necessarily due to lack of marks)can benefit from an
      alternative opportunity which is recognized in other parts
      of the globe.Secondly,it offers an extra income for lecturers
      of state universities which is a bonus for both the teachers
      and students of the institute,giving it a kind of good
      recognition.Similar to the functioning of our private hospitals
      with state hospital doctors.Thirdly,getting involved in
      creating awareness among the general public that education can
      be purchased and it’s a world phenomenon.We also must remember
      that it’s part of our free economy from which there’s no
      reverse and even our leftist are in full agreement.Finally it’s
      only natural to use all lawful resources available to achieve
      one’s objective which also involves nation building.

  • 0
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    Everybody and Nobody are talking for educational Reform in Sri Lanka.

    Leaving the politicians aside, I think academics in Sri Lanka also do not have an objective take in demanding or supplying “just education” to every citizen of this country.

    In Sri Lanaka less than 1% of the student population enroll to graduate education and above. Its worth to mention only 26% of the student population enroll after O/L to Advanced level schooling. On what ground are we going to say our education system is good? Isn’t entire intellectual community is responsible for their ignorance to address this issue adequately?

    Where are our Sri Lankan academicians to propose as to how to deal with the crisis?

    Today politicians are behaving just as agents or sub-contractors of government offices is the reality. In the same manner if I say academics in universities of Sri Lanka also nothing more than just paid workers, is that wrong?

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    Anon appears to have missed out the main point in my article and ends up with two incorrect comments which I wish to deal with first:
    (i) the visiting CCS lecturers are from the state University system, which looks after their income and entitlements and therefore the CCS programme is subsidised by the state.
    (ii)Some of the visiting CCS lecturers spend more time at CCS than in their home instituions

    While it is correct that many CCS lecturers are from the state University system, they do so after University working hours mostly on week-ends and public holidays,for a few hours during their entitled free time.It is completely incorrect to say that some of them spend most of their time at CCS than in their home institutions,It would be good to know the names of any any such person sent to me by ANON confidentially as ANON . He will , as far as I am aware, not be able to do so since there are no such academics.

    While on the subject of staff, may I also point out that we now have on our regular full time staff 3 Senior Professors. 1 Professor,6 Senior Lecturers and about 20 Teaching Assistants They are managing most of the weekday work and our decision to duplicate the weekday programme from 2013 without much difficulty is due to their availability.We wish to recruit more & more qualified Chemistry graduates with PHD provided they are available and found to be suitable and able.

    The University system therefore does not lose anything, directly or indirectly,financially or otherwise due to their staff conducting visiting lectures at CCS.The question of a subsidy therefore has no basis, foundation or credibility and simply does not arise!

    On the other hand, one might even point out that the CCS is in fact assisting (I will not say subsidising like ANON) the University system to retain its Chemistry qualified staff within the Universities by giving them an extra income during their free time and thereby minimising the need for such staff to search for greener pastures , which are easily available for Chemists within Sri Lanka and abroad, in the private sector or otherwise.Just to illustrate the issue, while the University system pays a measly Rs 500 per lecture hour for lecturing at other Universities as visiting lecturers and an archaic 20 year travelling rate of Rs 10 per mile(!), the CCS pays them over Rs 2000 per lecture hour and an adequate travelling rate that could give a University lecturer an extra income of about Rs 6,000 for a single visit lasting 2-2.5 hours mainly at weekends. If he does this over a month, he gets about Rs 30,000 without any loss whatsoever to the University system.This amounts on the average to a further one third of a typical academic’s salary.In a situation that the Universities, despite a 4 month strike,refuse and/or are unable to pay anything more to retain academics in the University system, the CCS is in fact assisting( or is it subsidising in ANON’s language?) them to retain their own academics.

    The main objective of my article was to impress on whosoever that may be interested/concerned to think outside conventional parameters and out of the conventional box to enhance the output of Special Chemistry level graduates. This, particularly at a time when due to the Z score problem coupled to the SC decision the UGC/ Universities are having a serious problem, so bad that the 2011 A/L qualified admission list to SL universities is not yet releaed. Granting for a moment( for the purpose of enlightment and minimising any possible difference of opinion) ANON’s concerns that my cost argument is incorrect, still is it not a good alternative for the UGC to select(using whatever admission criteria they may adopt)some willing students who might opt for an equivalent programme at the CCS beginning next January( we can wait until February as this is a national issue)and guaranteed to be completed within 4 years at a tuition cost so low that 5 can be admitted by the UGC to CCS when only one can be dmitted to the University system. If as ANON believes that the state is subsidising the CCS, is this not a clear indication that the UGC should in fact consciously encourage and even subsidise efforts such as that of the CCS which enables a low cost,high quality and much quicker avenue for tetiary chemical education within Sri Lanka.

    I am presently in the North American Continent and have seen to what extent tertiary institutions have changed in more ways than one can imagine to meet contemporary demands and requirements.Sri Lankan authorities and the wider public should do a little more thinking, perhaps in unconventional ways,to approach tertiary education in a manner and form different to what has gone all these many years, It may take time but it is well worth to consider seriously how best high quality tertiary education may be provided to meet modern demands and challenges.
    (For further information refer http://www.ichemc.edu.lk)

    One final point: thanks to ANON for appreciating the value of the CCS programme which my I add is run not by a tuition mudalali but by the professional body of chemists enpowered by Parliament to provide chemical education at all levels and maintain the standards of chemistry and chemists in Sri Lanka.May I add for the information of ANON and others that while about 85% of our large clientle of students are those who have, for whatever reason, been unable to eneter SL universities,it is also true that the balance 15% consists of students who are concurrently registered at the state universities.This includes even medical,engineering , phrmaceutical and many other students, some of whom travel from Universities as far as Rjarata,Wyamba,Sabaragamuwa and Ruhuna Universities to follow our programme as well at weekends.All of them are able, even under normal admission/pssing out conditions, to graduate from the CCS earlier than they do from the state University system ,The larger bulk are of course from the University Science faculties following even the equivalent special degree programme. Such students also my be willing, if their fees are paid by the UGC,to follow our courses and their places will be available for the additional intake.These are the alternate possibilities, which I wanted to highlight in my article which I feel ANON has missed in his response. I did not want to show how much the CCS programme costs less than the Uni system but rather to indicate that the UGC has a well-built and recognized mechanism to produce FIVE at the present cost od ONE.

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      It is unbecoming of the Rector of CCS to divulge the rates paid to the University lectures as visiting lecturers at other universities and at CCS treating the lecturers at state universities as beggars. Further, his argument that the additional money that these hard up lecturers earn ,stop them looking for greener pastures where they can find employment so easily is a myth. This SELF APPOINTED Rector of the college of sciences has no vision for the future. He is another dictator.

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    I just wonder whether this is the appropriate time to promote the College of Chemical Sciences(CCS) which produces graduate chemists. We are not living in the 1960s or the 70s where chemistry graduates were of high demand. The job opportunities for chemistry graduates who even have degree level knowledge of at least another subject are dwindling leave alone the graduate chemists produced by the CCS. Even the chemistry academics are finding it extremely difficult or practically impossible to even find a research position overseas to spend their sabbatical year. One good example is the author who has not done any research after obtaining his PhD although he is a professor. Most of the eminent academics have left the country and as a result the quality of education at these tertiary education institutes has gone down. The quality of these graduate chemists may not be different. Students should be encouraged to follow appropriate courses to suit the modern world. The author like a frog in a well should not promote a pure chemistry course at all.

    At a time when the country is in the verge of loosing all democratic rights, the author should have spent his time to make a valuable contribution to the society by expressing his opinion about the present crisis instead of promoting his own ambitions. He is a person who has no feelings for others and does not care about anybody else. At a time when the LTTE captured army camps during 1990s killing 2000-3000 army personal, he being the head of the Institute of chemistry celebrated the occasion with a grand party in the guise of celebrating X-mas. At that time people were aware that he is a LTTE sympathizer. The author will never go an extra mile to contribute to the welfare of Sri Lanka.

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    Prof. Fernando’s argument of visiting lecturers at CCS earning Rs. 30,000 a month at $2000 an hour “without any loss whatsoever to the University system,” is simply wrong.

    This is 15 hours a month or 3-4 hours a week. Senior staff members in the state system, like Prof. Fernando was, have 3-4 hours a week as their load. Let him declare how many lectures a week he delivered and how many books he wrote. Senior teachers at conventional universities may show more than 3-4 hours a week but that is by getting Lecturers to teach supposedly under their supervision. At the OU where once a book is written there are no lectures to give except occasional explanatory sessions, Prof. Fernando’s load must have been even less. My guess is that Prof. Fernando taught 1 hour a week and wrote no more books than his one book in physical chemistry which has low enrolment. I say this not to be personal or insulting but to show the nature of a senior academic’s true work

    Academics’ justification for this low teaching load is that they are doing research and need to devote time for that. They teach their research students and eminent colleagues all over the world through their papers. I agree fully with that rationale.

    Academics are different. When we live as we should, we think of our subjects round the clock, even in our dreams, our weekends, while showering, etc. That is the basis of our not having to clock in and out at work. When we spend that intellectual time at CCS, we are not doing our main work, which is research. CCS takes away from research.

    But when Prof. Fernando argues that when CCS visiting lecturers teach the same number of hours as they do at their home institution there is no loss, I would call it being facetious. This violates the basis for a low teaching load at the home institution.

    Prof. Fernando states that he has 3 Senior Professors, 1 Professor, 6 Senior Lecturers and about 20 Teaching Assistants at CCS “on [his] regular full time staff”. But I see on the CCS website, listed under “Full time Academic Staff,” only three professors or senior professors (JNO Fernando himself, S. Sotheeswaran and H.D. Gunawardene) and 4 doctoral level lecturers (USK Weliwegamage, C. Udawatte, R. Kandiah and R. Parthipan) – see http://www.ichemc.edu.lk/education-ccs/full-time-academic-staff.html.

    All three senior professors, however eminent and experienced, are retired professors and are available only because of that reason and must be counted as subsidized by other systems and their provident funds and pensions – they would not be available if they were in the usual work force and of working age. The others will likely move if they are appointed to the state universities. Comparing their number to the numerous doctoral level teachers at the state institutions, the dependence of CCS on the state in covering its workload is clear.

    Prof. Fernando wants me to name the people who spend more time at CCS than at their home institutions. That may be unfair and even unnecessary because he knows. Certainly when Prof. Fernando worked hard on building up CCS after stepping down as Dean at the OU (remaining as merely senior professor), he freely used his own time and staff at the OU for work at CCS. The OU staff may have been compensated but the OU and its students were short-changed.

    How can this same Prof. Fernando who wanted chemistry academics at the OU to account for every minute of the day (signing in and out and leaving a note saying where and for how long when even going to the library), now turn around and argue that when lecturers work the same number of hours at CCS as they do in their home institutions, there is no loss to the latter?

    I am insistent that CCS survives and does well because of the state sector. But I repeat that he has created a good and useful thing in the CCS.

    PS: I am not sure that I agree with the comments of CMW. It is difficult to make out that Prof. Fernando is pro-LTTE. He is rabidly pro-UNP but far from pro-LTTE.

    As for JNO’s “promoting his own ambitions,” the theory goes that when an individual’s self-interest and public interest are confluent, it is good for everyone. Have we not all benefited from CCS?

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    I fully agree with ANON’s observations. Prof. Fernando can afford to manage CCS cost effectively at the expense of state universities (especially Open University of Sri Lanka). CCS is a cancer to the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) chemistry department. CCS is using state facilities including postal cost of it’s publications & propaganda through OUSL mail (pronto), getting the services from some of OUSL senior staff of chemistry department, getting OUSL staff to teach, address CCS seminars, pose for CCS graduation photos at low rates all at the expense of OUSL. Professorships (Emeritus) obtained from state universities are used for CCS’s advantage! Encourage state university strikes and gain from the mess!! ………… These are the pest’s who destroy the FREE EDUCATION of SRI LANKA …………. why blame the government?

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    It’s rather amusing to read some of the arguments against the CCS and I.Chem.C. and pity to see how it goes in personal level, but can not avoid the fact we are Sri Lankans : We inherit that, can not change.
    First of all, I should say, I am a proud Graduate of the Institute of Chemistry, and it’s my duty to defend my alma mater and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it anywhere. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in Inorganic Chemistry and currently working as a postdoctoral Scientist at BASF, Germany. (My wife is also a I.Chem.C. Graduate. She also has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware, USA – UD is ranked in the second quarter (25-50) of US Universities in Chemistry Ph.D. education)
    What Prof. Fernando has missed in his article is the outcome of the CCS: Hundreds of CCS students who pursue Ph.D’s in the USA, UK, Australia and other countries. I assume Prof Fernando didn’t want to bring this issue merely not to agitate the envy of the readers, who struggle to comprehend the knowledge we gained by CCS is more than sufficient to qualify the overseas universities, and the past students at CCS are excellent in their overseas studies. By now, as I know there are over 30 Ph.D’s were produced from the past student population of CCS and more than double are currently working on their Ph.D’s.
    There are so many success stories behind each and every graduate of the I.Chem. C. Some are University lecturers in western Universities and some are scientists at major chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
    As for some comments, I.Chem.C. doesn’t survive with government resources or state sector,I would say, I.Chem.C has it’s own mechanism, own lifeline. Just because the lecturers are originated from the state universities, one can not say I.Chem.C can not survive without the state sector. As far as I know, I.Chem.C. doesn’t get any subsidies from the government.
    I.Chem.C has its own traditions, it doesn’t discriminate anyone based on their race or religion; they celebrate almost all the major religious functions belong to every religion, and the student body lives in harmony, there is no ragging, no strikes or no protests. The Christmas party will go on as a such tradition despite any situation, it’s rather silly to accuse prof. Fernando being pro-LTTE based on continuing that tradition. And he doesn’t have a hand on that, the Christmas Party is organized by the Students Association.
    There is no free education in Sri Lanka. We pay high amount of taxes to provide education and luxuries to the politicians which is an indirect way of paying for education. Nothing is free in this society, and everything comes with a price tag. Like or not, it’s time to move forward with the world. Most of the developed countries operate private universities, and they produce well educated graduates for the needs of the country. One argument of the “anti private university crowd” is that the standard of the graduates. If you look at the graduates produced by the I.Chem.C. throughout the history, you can see how many successful personalities including professors, scientists, business owners and educators live around the world. Unlike in Sri Lanka, it’s hard to get a good job without proper qualification (and skills). If the standards in I.Chem.C. are low, there wouldn’t be any such personalities.
    The exams and paper marking is monitored by a panel of overseas professors, and the program is constantly monitored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK. There are no paper leaks or any other irregularities in I.Chem.C exams reported throughout its history and the integrity of the academic affairs is highly guarded. There is much more to say, but,… Those who already cemented their opinion in their hearts wont change…

    Piyal Ariyananda, Ph.D.
    Catalysis Research Lab, BASF.
    Germany.

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    May I thank Piyal for getting into the picture with jis stout defence of the CCS and the graduates.

    The objective of my account was NOT to broadcast the status of the CCS or to show how economical it is OR to attract new students OR commecialise it since the quality, cost and status of the programme is well known and recognized not only in SLbut also globally.The importance of Chemistry graduates to the economy and national development of SL and globally continues in greater vigour in the 21 st century as it was in the 20 th century.This is why it is still so popular in Sri lanka although some of the respondees to my account do not seem to know or realize.

    MY objective was to enable the state University system to benefit by the CCS programme, particularly at a time when the state system is having a serious problem and the CCS is expanding its programme to the weekdays as well on account of the huge demand from students!!! Having served the University system even in a humble but patriotic manner way for 43 years , without even ever thinking of applying for a foreign assignment (except for sabaticals which I did in Manchester and PNG) and taught a number of students in whatever way I was able and competent to do, I made it known publicly that the Univeristy system can very conveniently expand the free education system by producing FIVE Chemistry graduates for the cost of ONE by selecting and sending some of the willing students to the CCS and thereby expend the free education system very economically.

    It is therefore very unfortunate that this central objective of my account has not as yet been commented or crticised by anyone.

    It is even more unforunate that a few persons while appreciating the great value of the CCS programme have nevertheless thought it fit under the guise of anonimity to come out with false information re me, the CCS and the Open University. BY trying to reply and correct those incorect statements (one of which is that we retired state university professors are on PENSIONS which we are not)I will only be diverting the issue even further and missing out my suggestion and simple solution to expand the current free education system (which Piyal refuses to accept) using the CCS resources. IF

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    To continue and conclude my interupted response above, may I therefore say that I am not going to respond to those diversionary remarks including the false personal references to me and thereby continue to miss the main objective of my offer which I repeat nobody has yet commented on.

    Finally, I must tell Piyal that amongst CCS products not 30 but over 75 have got PH D’s and by the end of 2013 we expect to have nearly 100 and details can be supplied.

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      Wonder whether the quality of a particular course can be judged by the number of students who continue their studies and complete PhDs. The number of PhDs is not a measure of the quality of the tertiary degree. There are many instances where general science graduates or even zoology graduates with botany as the subsidiary have completed PhDs in chemistry. As such, completing a PhD is quite easy if the student is hard working and there is nothing to boast about it. What really matters is the quality of work that those graduates do after obtaining the PhD and what sought of contribution they make to the world. Although JNOF says that there are ample job opportunities in the developed world and also in Sri Lanka for chemistry graduates I still think it is a myth. There are many people who have done medicine from scratch after completing PhDs in chemistry because of the fact that there are less opportunities for chemists and medical doctors still are of high demand in the developed world.

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    CMR,
    Yes sir/madam, the quality of a tertiary degree can very well be measured by the number of Ph.D.s produced, based on several factors.
    An earned Ph.D. in western countries (not the ones offered for the politicians by the local ones – No, those have no value, because they are not Earned and those who bear them have no qualification what so ever) require several prerequisits, but not limited to,
    (i)Mainly a 4 year degree (or a 3 year degree with a MSc. and outstanding performance)
    (ii)Excellent results, – Normally a first class or at least a second upper
    (iii)Good GRE and TOEFL results, or other qualifications based on the country which, the Ph.D is offered.

    Sri Lankan students compete for those positions with (a)the students from the respective country, (b) Indian students, (c)Chinese students, and (d)other countries. Chinese and Indian students are far ahead of the game despite Chinese have really bad English, (but for higher grades). It’s not easy to qualify for a Ph.D. in a western country.
    Once they are selected, the graduate school considers the records of the previous candidates (or students already studying in that school, if any) to see if there are any bad apples,.. If the previous students do not perform well, it’s hard for the next generation to get in. (again, there are no personal favors; the selection criteria in western universities, specially for Ph.D., is really tough – you should try once)
    Even after getting in, there are many hurdles in getting a doctorate. If any hardworking student can get a Ph.D (as for your arguments) Sri Lanka should have been producing Ph.D.s like no other country,.. But why is it not ? There are so many science graduates in Sri Lanka,.. Why can’t they go for Ph.D.s in western countries if getting a Ph.D is such a piece of cake ?
    Still the dropout rate of Chemistry Ph.D.s are also higher, and as far as I know (because I have contacts with the I.Chem.C. graduates) I have never heard of any I.Chem. student who dropped out of the graduate school.
    Of course, after working hard for five to six years (in the US) or 4 years (in UK) on the doctoral studies with many hardships, there is a lot to boast about EARNING a Ph.D.;which you may never know.. Those who don’t have it, dream to get it and envy those who have it,.. Those who have it are proud of it,. This is the truth,.. This is why everyone likes to be called a Dr. or Prof. so an so…. Even medical doctors are proud of their title, despite having a MBBS. (FYI: there are more medical doctors than Ph.D’s in our country, and many fake doctors as well : over 40,000)
    I am so sorry you didn’t read my previous comment: The Ph.D’s produced from the basic I.Chem. degree are currently working on Cancer research centers, pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies, universities and many more important places, who contribute more than enough to the mankind. That shows how do they perform and how do they make path for the subsequent generations. Those who obtained I.Chem.C. degree and pursuing other career paths are doing well too,. It’s hard to find an unemployed I.Chem. graduate in Sri Lanka..
    People go after their dreams, of course medical profession is more lucrative than anything,.. medical doctors earn more than the Chemistry Ph.D.s in any country and they earn the respect from the society as well. So there are some who want to be a medical doctor even after earning a Ph.D.(And again, I know some students who did Chemistry Ph.D’s just because they couldn’t afford going to medical school, it’s the second choice.) The need of medical doctors are always in demand as the world has more medical problems than chemical problems,.. One chemist can solve a few problems and he is much more adaptable, but one doctor is more specialized in his/her field – except general practitioners.
    But, please do not forget,. It’s the power of chemistry (and chemists) which enables you to make your life easier, from the day you were born till the day you die,.. hence Chemistry is the central science,. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the need of chemists and power of chemistry since it’s silently operating behind the curtains,..

    P.S: I just wanted to clarify my stance on your misconception on Ph.D.s, I don’t comment on the original article since its motive is obvious.

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      There is a good feeling when someone tries to enlighten laymen on education specially the requirements to enter into a PhD program and how difficult it is to complete a PhD etc. However, without knowing the background of a person, just because the writer is anonymous due to the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka where dissenting comments are not tolerated, trying to enlighten him/her on education is utter stupidity.

      I am a person who will introduce myself as so and so without referring to a title in front of my name unless it is an official document. I always respect people who are down to earth and humble. Good education and pride(or should I say vanity) do not go together. Yes! One should be happy about his/her own achievements but should not gloat about it.

      Being a retired academic after serving a couple of decades each in Sri Lanka and in a western country I do posses a vast experience. I have raised my children in such a way that they are humble and down to earth although all of them are medical doctors. I have been involved in the Institute of Chemistry as a lecturer from the inception of the graduateship course and served in the educational committee and the Institute council as well. As such, I know very well about the institute more than what the students do know.

      I was particularly interested in two of Piyal’s comments. They are;

      1.”Of course, after working hard for five to six years (in the US) or 4 years (in UK) on the doctoral studies with many hardships, there is a lot to boast about EARNING a Ph.D. which you may never know.. Those who don’t have it, dream to get it and envy those who have it,.. Those who have it are proud of it,. This is the truth,.. This is why everyone likes to be called a Dr. or Prof. so an so”
      2.”(again, there are no personal favors; the selection criteria in western universities, specially for Ph.D., is really tough – you should try once)”

      Having had experience in North America and in other English speaking countries I am pretty sure that a hard working Sri Lankan student with an above average intelligence can complete a PhD program in less than 4 Years even if additional course work is involved in US and Canada and in UK it should take 3 years or little less. However, the difficulty of finding a place and the longer time it takes for these graduateship students to complete a PhD is not a justification for boasting about the Dr title.

      After completing the PhD comes the real challenging time if one does not have a ready made job. The uncertainty of finding suitable employment for chemistry PhDs will haunt while doing temporary post doctoral positions. As such, these young PhDs should realize the reality and come down from the pedestal and work hard for a bright future. There is a Sinhala saying ” PIRUNU KALE DIYA NOSALE”

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        Well, thank you for the comments,. secondly, it’s your responsibility to tell the others who you are in the first place, thus, my stupidity could have been avoided.
        I did it in the first comment, so everyone knows what my qualifications are and who am I. Unfortunately, you are too scared or skeptical to reveal your identity (although you live in a western country) so we have no idea who you are,. I could have said that I am a highly successful businessman or a Scientist in BASF, but I was humble enough to reveal my true identity.
        I apologize the readers for deviating from the main topic to respond these comments. In the west, no one uses the title anyway, that tradition lives only in Europe and Asia. Even if the current students call me sir or Dr. Piyal, I don’t like it either,. But when I had to defend the I.Chem.C. I know my title gives better credibility than just a name.

        Let me dig little bit deeper in your comments,.
        Quote : “I have been involved in the Institute of Chemistry as a lecturer from the inception of the graduateship course and served in the educational committee and the Institute council as well. As such, I know very well about the institute more than what the students do know.” End Quote.

        Since I have been the president of the Students Association at I.Chem. C. in 1996/97, and involved with activities more than enough to know compared to a student till 2001, may I ask what subjects did you teach in I.Chem.C ? I might have learned from you, and would love to let you know about my progress. Honestly, I am not sure if your statements are entirely true,. Sadly, not a single professor who taught in the I.Chem. matches to your said profile.

        Moreover, I don’t think your knowledge is not very well updated with the current situation in academia and chemical industry in the west. After the Ph.D., most of the students who intend to go in Academia, or a scientist position in industry work on a postdoctoral position for one or two years. By doing that, they sharpen their research skills and management skills, so they can have their independent careers following the PD position. With current demand, even MIT, Harvard graduates have difficulties in finding suitable jobs just after the Ph.D. Furthermore, the current average duration of a Ph.D. in most of the universities is 5 years, and some even take 6 and a half years. It all depends on the Professor, the research project and amount of extra workload such as teaching assignments. There may be isolated incidents who complete a Ph.D. in 4 years,. (All of my colleagues – some were brilliant, took well over 5 years to complete their Ph.D.s)

        I may be a below average student in your eyes, but winning a Postdoc position in Europe’s number one Chemical Company (BASF) needs much better set of skills than an average hardworking student. So, I am proud of my achievements, and simultaneously I am humble enough to do much more than you think. and I will keep doing it as long as I can. Those who are associated with me will decide what kind of a “Kalaya” I am…

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    Having gone through the original article, the relevant and mostly the irrelevant responses, it seems that certain readers, like CMR and CMW, do not feel comfortable with the existence and the rapid progress of CCS. As a Graduate Chemist from CCS who was concurrently following a Chemistry Special degree in one of the best science faculties in the island, I have heard these kinds of comments about our Alma matter at various occasions quite a number of times, especially in a state university environment; therefore I’m not surprised by this reaction. Besides, Prof. Fernando’s article provides such people, who make baseless and pointless statements, a public platform, regardless of their relevancy to the original article. These responses also resemble the way how a typical Sri Lankan think; the very reason why this country faces such problems as in the current.

    After the two WELL-DETAILED responses by Dr. Piyal, I DO NOT think there is a question of recognition of CCS or the quality of the graduates produced by it. Our graduates have proved their competency by being able to receive multiple offers when applying to post-graduate work and some of these offers are from top-20 Universities in the US. May I also add that CCS graduates have been able to compete well at several international competitions at outstanding levels. So, without any doubt, our graduates have contributed to the fame of the country as much as or perhaps even more so than the graduates from certain conventional universities. Therefore, any objections, reluctance and discomforts that the relevant authorities or the public have regarding the capability and the capacity of the CCS graduates are futile.

    In response to CMW’s first response; First of all let me suggest you to refer to the course curriculum of CCS as it no longer conducts just pure Chemistry courses. As a student who simultaneously followed a Chemistry special degree program at a state university, I am well aware about the wider scope of the syllabus of CCS into applied areas of Chemistry, which were never taught in the university. Following this statement of CMW, may I also give you a word of warning in making further statements about CCS course structure and contents. The higher standards maintained by the College are made possible by regular revision of the course structure and the content through the feedback of all its stakeholders i.e, academics, Graduate Chemists and also the current students, at periodic intervals. The course is continuously monitored through studies conducted since 2006 and thus all the improvements that we claim are accountable as well. I do not believe any conventional state university in the country is open to such revisions at least at five year intervals or keeps accounts of their department’s status in a regular manner.

    Making a note of the comments of CNR about the job availability for Chemists, in today’s highly competitive job market, thinking about those medical doctors who leave the country on greencard and work in the US at gas stations, restaurants etc, it is a surprise to learn that medical doctors are in high demand in developed world! (Is USA not in the so called developed world in your view of the world??) Almost any professional field today is facing a job crisis. But in my opinion, the ability for an individual to find a job is more or less dependent on his/her marketability and not just on the field itself. Besides, Chemistry being the Central science, the Chemistry graduates can easily deviate to any other field in science. Thus it is your folly to say that the Chemists lack job. Referring back to CNW’s comment who mentions that eminent academics left the country, shouldn’t you be grateful to these professors who returned to Sri Lanka after obtaining their PhD’s and somehow try to feed the tertiary education system in Sri Lanka in a fruitful and effective manner at a separate institution(s) because it was almost impossible for them to do so at state universities which are now run underhand by corrupted politicians??

    To conclude, I am in opinion that the free education will be protected and used by ‘more deserved students’ who cannot afford paid education rather by co-existence of conventional universities with other entities. Let me recommend the readers of this article to get rid of the typical mindsets about protecting the conventional universities (when, in fact, they are getting deteriorated) and think about the out-of-the-box and win-win solutions like the one suggested by Prof. Fernando as possible remedies for the prevailing unfavorable condition of the tertiary education in the country.

    Thilina Gunasekara
    PhD Student
    Purdue University, USA

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      I would like to post a few comments as an interested spectator.

      I totally agree with CMW, CMR and Dambara Amila and Anon.

      First of all Thilina must brush up his English. Just forming a sentence with some words is not good enough.

      About doctors going to USA and other western countries and working at gas stations etc. Any western country(USA, Australia, NZ etc) has its own qualifying examination for international medical graduates coming in. They should first pass this examination to be eligible to work in a hospital. Those doctors who are too lazy to study again or incompetant to pass the exam may opt to work at gas stations etc

      You refer to one of the persons who commented as Dr. Piyal. It should be either just Piyal or Dr. Ariyananda.

      Also Thilina tells CMW “may I also give you a word of warning in making further statements about CCS course structure and contents.” This is totally inappropriate and reflects the mentality of MR regime.

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        Thilina has put his opinion perfectly well in very good
        English I suppose.

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    Dear Editor of CT

    According to your comments policy the 3rd guide line says
    “we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening.” I would like you to focus on Thilina Gunasekara’s comment(6th,7th and 8th lines of para 3) where he writes “Following this statement of CMW, may I also give you a word of warning in making further statements about CCS course structure and contents”. I find this to be a threat to my life(humour). Don’t you think you have to remove this sentence.

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    First of all, whilst thanking ‘whywhy’ for his comment, I beg the pardon of ‘Peshala’ for my bad English. I will try to improve.

    Referring to the next part of Peshala’s comment; ‘Those doctors who are too lazy to study again or incompetant to pass the exam may opt to work at gas stations etc’.
    Although we have a difference in opinions, let me thank you for exemplifying my previous statement that “the ability for an individual to find a job is more or less dependent on his/her marketability”.

    Could you please explain to me in what tradition/context we are ‘supposed’ to call the PhD holders by either their first name or as Dr. Surname? (note – In an earlier comment, CMW implied this as a not an official document)

    Dear Peshala and CMW, I believe the CT moderators will distinguish clearly between the words ‘warning’ and ‘threatening’.

    Finally, as this discussion leads to elsewhere, I no longer wish to reply to any irrelevant responses. And I urge the learned readers to comment/criticize the contents of the original article itself.

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    Sadly Piyal hasn’t done enough research to find out who CMW is and has started accusing CMW of portraying a false profile. Tch Tch. You have done it again. CMW has been totally honest about everything and Piyal has doubted his word.

    I have a pretty good idea who CMW is. There are two clues. Firstly how many Chemistry academics(involved with CCS) are there whose children are all medical doctors. As far as I know there are two. Secondly in his first comment CMW has written about the Christmas party that the CCS held just a week after thousands of soldiers at Punaryn who were defending our country died. This particular lecturer protested against having a party amidst such sorrow and stopped all his involvements with CCS. Now put two and two together and you have the answer.

    I do not think that CMW who was a very popular well respected lecturer among students would stoop so low to answer Piyal’s allegations. He did not reveal his name probably because those who dissent and want to lead a quiet life choose to remain anonymous unlike some politically minded people who want something out of everything.

    Anyway even if CMW did not go on an ego trip and reveal his status Piyal ‘s statement “you will never know the pride of having a PhD. You should try it once.” shows how full Piyal’s Kalaya is.Very unbecoming indeed

    Now that I have participated in this debate I would love to know the reponse of Dr. Fernando to the very serious allegations written by Anon and Dambara Amila. As far as I know(well I know a lot about OU and ICC) these allegations are true.

    By the way Piyal watch that door. Your head might get hurt.

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    I would love to know the reponse of Dr. Fernando to the very serious allegations written by Anon and Dambara Amila. As far as I know(well I know a lot about OU and ICC) these allegations are true.

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    When someone expresses his/her opinion on a particular subject he/she should not change it to suit the occasion. One’s integrity is measured by how consistent he/she is, in expressing opinions. On this same subject I would like to refer to Dr Ariyanada’s opinion on the Dr title on 2 different days.

    December 26, 2012 5:13 pm
    “there is a lot to boast about EARNING a Ph.D.;which you may never know.. Those who don’t have it, dream to get it and envy those who have it,.. Those who have it are proud of it,. This is the truth,.. This is why everyone likes to be called a Dr. or Prof. so an so…”.

    December 27, 2012 5:00 pm
    “Even if the current students call me sir or Dr. Piyal, I don’t like it either–“-

    One shouldn’t change opinions in just 24 hours

    Also about Dr.Ariyananda’s statement in the comment to CMW
    “I am not sure if your statements are entirely true,. Sadly, not a single professor who taught in the I.Chem. matches to your said profile.”

    Well not very good at researching, Are you? Please don’t make these kind of statements if you are not 100% sure.

    The inconsistency of expressing his opinions makes me wonder whether to believe Dr. Ariyananda or not

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    This comment was removed by a moderator. Please provide a credible source (a link) and put your comment again – CT

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    I am extremely sorry that not one of the respondees has so far taken the main objective of my account which was to further free education in Sri Lanka by indicating a very convenient, economical opportunity for Special degree level Graduate Chemists to be produced in Sri Lanka without delay and at a cost that will enable FIVE to be produced at the current cost of ONE at the state universities.

    There may be difficulties, problems and tachnical difficulties which I admit but I would welcome comments from all interested parties without wasting our time on relatively useless pursuits, which was not intended in my article.

    There appears to be general agreement on the quality of the CCS Graduate Chemist. The mechanism of production is now 35 years old and is well time tested.

    For whatever reason, about 15% of the CCS student clientale are following similar or different types of courses (even medicine) at state Universities in Sri Lanka.Can we not use this situation to further free education in SL with which I have been involved very actively for 43 years until mandatory retirement.

    So can we have comments on my original proposal which no respondee has taken up. I invite criticisms/oomments on that without diverting our attention on other extraneous matters, .

    J N O Fernando

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    Well Prof Fernando,I have given you the credit you very well
    deserve,the way I can see most fitting.Not only that,in
    appreciation of your valuable contribution,I have already
    added one more student to your institute.I feel that was my
    donation to your work.There are few other areas where many
    other benefits, generated by this project,not taken into your
    account.So why not be happy about few more badges decorating
    your suits instead of lamenting about what you haven’t got?
    Your’s is coming directly at personal responsibility of
    payment while state provides the funds for state institute which
    ordinary,mainly rural folks believe,they get for free.You might
    say that every citizen pays for everything that state provides
    but not in the ears of Silvas and Bandas. Now please appreciate
    good ones you have received and especially the ones with action.

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    Whywhy has advised Prof JNO Fernando to be happy instead of lamenting. No other writer to Colombo Telegraph ever pleaded with the public to come up with comments on the subject matter. The comments should be unprompted.

    In his article Prof Fernando says chemistry is popular and a demanding discipline and the UGC as well as state universities of Sri Lanka have accepted the professional graduate chemist qualification awarded by the Institute of chemistry although graduate chemists passing out of the CCS do not possess a formal university degree. To my knowledge the only university which recognized the graduate chemists is the open university which had a few of these graduate chemists working as demonstrators and teaching assistants in the chemistry department.

    Prof Fernando goes on to say that the question papers of CCS are moderated and the scripts are remarked by UK professors. I do not understand this phenomenon of having UK chemistry professors as external examiners. Are we so bankrupt?

    According to Prof Fernando the cost incurred by a CCS student is presently in the region of only Rs 3.5-4 lakhs over the entire 4 year period whereas the average cost incurred by the government through the UGC to produce a single Graduate Chemist over 4 years through the state Universities is reported to be around Rs 1.5 – 2 million which is about five times what is needed to educate such a student to a similar level at the CCS. These figures have to be verified in my opinion.

    Prof Fernando further says that the current annual pass out number ranging from 75-90 Graduate Chemists corresponds to as much as 45% of Sri Lanka’s total output of about 180 Special Degree level Graduate Chemists including the output from 6 conventional universities.

    He also says that the state Universities find it impossible to increase the number of special degree chemists they produce to more than about 100 annually and it is therefore obvious and pellucidly clear that if the Government/UGC wishes to increase the number of special degree chemists produced in Sri Lanka in a very convenient , effective and economical manner, then one easy method would be for the UGC is to select a reasonable number of A/L qualified students ( through whatever system it desires and adopts )and send any such willing students who desire and opt for this alternate path to the CCS.

    Now, what the knowledgeable people should ask is: whether Sri Lanka needs more than 180 special degree level graduates, can Sri Lanka afford to find all of them proper employment. What % of these graduates can pursue higher studies abroad? Will they come back and serve Sri Lanka? Otherwise it becomes a waste. Isn’t it more beneficial to the motherland to cut down further funding for courses which are not of demand and use that money in other courses such as medicine, nursing etc. to increase the intake to the medical faculty.

    Finally, my personal opinion is the government should not spend a cent more to increase the number of chemistry graduates.

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      One who knows,there’s another crucial factor that needs
      serious attention here.Number of students and spaces
      provided to them.As I understand,there are 200-300 students
      in one class room.With due respect,I ask prof Fernando to
      focus on the achievements of intakes he already has instead
      of wanting more.The usually accepted maximum amount of students
      per class-room should be 30 and we can double it with correct
      space in a country like ours.But how come ten times larger?
      There’s definitely a compromise in the quality of teaching.
      Students can not have individual attention and according to
      Abramson,if larger spaces were used for instructional purposes
      the achievements were greater and students need ample space
      because crowding causes problems.
      The effects of high density was summarized by Wohwill and
      Vanviliet.And they say,high-density conditions that involve too
      many or little space can cause excess levels of stimulation,
      stress and arousal,a drain on resources available,considerable
      interference,reduction in desired privacy levels and loss of
      control.Though no one has completed definitive research on the
      impact of the distance among students and the amount of learning
      that takes place in defined spaces,one thing is said to be certain,
      crowding is a negative factor for student outcomes.

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    Oleap Fernando’s proposal on “Producing Chemistry Graduates at Much Lower Cost” looks attractive at first sight but once properly analyzed looks hollow.

    There are many factors to consider before any decision is made on this proposal.

    The UGC should make sure before sending funds and students to CCS that these students at the end of the graduateship course will remain in Sri Lanka for a certain number of years to serve the motherland for getting free education because according to the comments of Oleap Fernando and the ex-student of CCS Dr. Ariyananda most of the CCS products go abroad for their PhDs and no one knows how many of them came back to serve the motherland. The probability of anyone coming back surely should be near zero. Both Oleap Fernando and Dr. Ariyananda admit that these graduates are well employed in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If that is the case what is the purpose of requesting the UGC for state funds to take in more students to CCS in order to increase the production of chemistry special level graduates. The state is not obliged to produce graduates in Sri Lanka to go and serve foreign countries. According to Oleap Fernando the numbers of qualified students seeking admission to the CCS have reached gigantic proportions in the current year and in order to accommodate all who wish to register for this high quality and well recognized programme, the College of Chemical Sciences has decided to run an additional duplicated programme on week-days as well. If there are so many students willing to pay Rs hundred thousand a year over 4 years, well just grab them and run the ambitious programme without trying to get the UGC involved in this matter.

    Just hypothetically assume that these chemistry graduates do not migrate to foreign countries. Oleap Fernando states that at present a total of 180 special degree level graduate chemists are produced in Sri Lanka, 100 by the six state universities and 80 by the CCS. He further says that it is impossible for the six state universities to take more than 100 students for chemistry special but the CCS can take in 100 more students to its week day program from January 2013. This means by the end of 2016 Sri Lanka will be producing a total of 280 graduate chemists. Now, the major question is does Sri Lanka need 300 odd chemistry special graduates. I do not think even the whole world needs that many. In western countries the chemistry departments are finding it so difficult to get local students enrolled in chemistry special courses or any other basic science courses. As such, these western universities employ (cheap labor) the graduates from the subcontinent as teaching assistants to run their chemistry labs and tutorials.

    Oleap Fernando confidently stresses the point that the CCS is starting the week day programme in January 2013. Today is the 30th December 2012 and still
    according to CCS official website, http://www.ichemc.edu.lk/education-ccs/full-time-academic-staff.html, there are only 6 people, 3 senior professors who are retired academics and four lecturers, working as permanent academic staff at CCS. Then the question one should ask is how these 6 people can manage to run the week day programme without the help of state university academic staff as they are not allowed to teach during week days in private establishments. The 3 senior professors who have retired many years ago at the age of 65 will have to work the entire week. Is this a possibility?

    If one considers all of the above factors this proposal is neither practical nor useful.

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      Vidana,let me weigh in regarding the first factor that you mentioned. After the details of Prof. Fernando, Dr. Piyal and I provided on the Graduates chemists who went abroad to pursue PG studies, one may have misunderstood that ‘most of the GCs’ do so, which is not true. It is important to note that while the percentage of students pursuing PG abroad in a passing out batch is less than that of a conventional university ( the numbers are still almost the same because, for sample comparison, CCS produces about 3-4 times more chemistry graduates than Univ. of Colombo), the remaining graduates save their mother country at various levels, from lab assistants to company directors/CEOs, in and out of the field of Chemistry. ( These results are based on survey results)

      Further, you also mentioned that, if UGC is to fund students directed to CCS, they should make sure those students will agree to serve the country for certain number of years. I fully agree with your suggestion and the government should take action to enforce it. But shouldn’t that be applied to a greater extent to those who studied in state universities? ( greater- because the money spent on a Univ graduate is 5 times more). Adding further, as for Prof. Fernando, he is known to be someone who always urges GCs, specially the fresh GCs to come back and save the country and he even criticizes those who give various reasons to settle down abroad. ( this advice has made a strong influence in my future planning and I’m sure it is the same for many GCs).

      On your prediction about the incrasing number of graduates, true it is! The world doesn’t need that many Chemistry graduates. But not all of them end up doing jobs in the same field. The trend and the basic requirement for a decent job today is to hold a degree or perhaps multiple degrees. So I am in opinion that, whatever the discipline is, Sri Lanka should increase the production of graduates.

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        o I came to the conclusion that graduate chemists in hundreds, pursue PhD studies abroad, have completed PhDs and well employed in western countries, based on the comments of you , Piyal and Prof Fernando. You all emphasized these facts so strongly to prove the quality of CCS products. You in your comment on Dec.27 2012 say “After the two WELL-DETAILED responses by Dr. Piyal, I DO NOT think there is a question of recognition of CCS or the quality of the graduates produced by it. Our graduates have proved their competency by being able to receive multiple offers when applying to post-graduate work and some of these offers are from top-20 Universities in the US. May I also add that CCS graduates have been able to compete well at several international competitions at outstanding levels. So, without any doubt, our graduates have contributed to the fame of the country as much as or perhaps even more so than the graduates from certain conventional universities.” Now, on Dec.30 2012 you say that it is important to note that while the percentage of students of CCS pursuing post graduate studies abroad in a passing out batch is less than that of a conventional university the others work in Sri Lanka and it is not true to say that most graduate chemists pursue postgraduate studies abroad. It is very clear to anyone that, when the first impression that you three gave us about the demand of the CCS products overseas back fires when it comes to government funding, you change the tune and say “or no only a very few percentage of CCS products goes overseas for their PhDs and rest work in Sri Lanka.” These contradictory statements are unacceptable in a professional environment.
        Regarding returning to motherland after completion of PhDs you say
        “Adding further, as for Prof. Fernando, he is known to be someone who always urges GCs, specially the fresh GCs to come back and save the country and he even criticizes those who give various reasons to settle down abroad. (this advice has made a strong influence in my future planning and I’m sure it is the same for many GCs).”

        Even when the country was more democratic it is only a very few who came back. Some who went on scholarships given to Sri Lankan government (Commonwealth, Colombo plan, etc.) never came back even if they had service bonds with the state. At present everyone tries to emigrate or at least send their children abroad as the situation is getting worse. Patriotism is not a reason to live in one’s motherland. So for you guys, returning to Sri Lanka is something that you all need to decide wisely.

        To add a further point to this discussion I would like to give my attention to the comment posted on 30-12-2012 by whywhy who seems a very knowledgeable person. He says
        “there’s another crucial factor that needs
        serious attention here. Number of students and spaces
        provided to them. As I understand, there are 200-300 students
        in one class room”. It seems a single lecturer teaches all these 300 students in one go in a cattle shed. If the lecturer is a state university member he/she is paid Rs 2000.00 per hour to teach 300 students. This means a rate of close to Rs 7 per hour per student according to Prof JNO Fernando. Prof Fernado ridicules the state universities by saying that they only pay Rs 500.00 per hour(did not reveal the number of students). In fact the number is around 20 chemistry special students. The rate then in a state university will be Rs 25 per hour per student. Is there any justification to say that the additional income that the state university lecturers get from CCS stops them leaving the country.

        I expect Prof JNO Fernado to reply to these comments without waiting quietly for the ex-CCS students to take the responsibility to defend the CCS.
        .

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          Vidana, thank you for your reply on my comment. I emphasized on your words ‘MOST graduate chemists’ and explained to you that the right word is not MOST but ‘MANY’. In simple satistical terms, ‘most’ means in this case more than 50% of GCs go abroad for PG. As a percentage, MOST chemistry graduates in certain Science Faculties go abroad for PG, while at CCS the percentage is lesser because it has more students in a batch. But still in terms of numbers, those are comparable with the state universities. To make it more simple to you, in a science faculty, of a about 20-25 chemistry special grads, about 10-15 do PG abroad. At CCS, a usual passing out batch is about 70-90, and of them about 20 GCs go for PG within the first two years after graduating. The rest will serve Sri Lanka at various levels. That is an over-simplified summary of my previous comment. I hope it’s clear to you now. What I have mentioned cannot be self-contradictory as I have considered surveys that I worked on for more than 2 years.

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    Answer to Vidan’s last paragraph is the open university chemistry dept. staff (not all the members of course!) to fill the gaps.

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    Vidana says “Now, the major question is does Sri Lanka need 300 odd chemistry special graduates. I do not think even the whole world needs that many.”

    First, I think above statement is totally inaccurate and not supported by facts.America alone produced nearly 3000 Phds in Chemistry each year and Chemistry is one of the most popular undergrad major in natural science stream.So saying that 300 grades are even not wanted by entire world is really irrational.

    Other thing is that with the expansion of Industry and research sectors, need and demand for chemistry graduate is going to be increasing not other way around.

    Most important thing I learned from above statement is that lack of understanding what chemists really do and what chemistry graduate can do after graduation.

    Chemist are not confined to pure theoretical or physical chemistry research ,they involve in engineering, bi-medical and almost all natural science fields. Consider about nanotechnology and rational drug discovery and development, medicinal chemistry, material science, space technology or any-other new emerging fields. Therefore opportunities for chemists in these fields are really high.

    After graduate with chemistry you can go in to any other filed, Chemistry graduate easily can go in to bi medical or Engineering field ,or they can go in to management field or even can go to medical school to do MD to become a physician or PhD to become a medical researcher.

    So producing more chemist is not going to be a waste

    “In western countries the chemistry departments are finding it so difficult to get local students enrolled in chemistry special courses or any other basic science courses. As such, these western universities employ (cheap labor) the graduates from the subcontinent as teaching assistants to run their chemistry labs and tutorials.”

    I think it’s other way around, still chemistry is one of the most popular and competitive field which received highest number of application for Phd. It’s true that most of the western universities have funding issues. but it’s effects on Chemistry department is less compare to Engineering and biological science departments.so your statement is a lie.

    Other thing is that TA salary for Chemistry PhD student is same as any other filed so they dont recruit graduate students if they have financial difficulties as other departments, specially student from sub continent who are poor in English.(even they don’t like the sub continent harder accent ). They have plenty of local students (graduate student and student from other departments(Engineering biological science student with chemistry knowledge) )to give these TA options. Reality is when department in financial difficulty they tend to minimized foreign student not other-way around .While most of the other department(engineering /bio science ) struggle to accommodate even 10 gradate students, chemistry departments of most of the big universities recruit 40 to 50 gradate students each year.

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