1 October, 2020

Blog

UGC Chairmanship And The Law

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

We have just had the rule of law severely weakened in the purported appointment of a CJ. The Bishop of Colombo, The Rt. Revd. Dhiloraj Canagasabey, called it “a complete collapse of democracy.”

There is an old saying that “He that Steals an Egg will Steal and Ox.” We have had a big theft by the President in purporting to sack the CJ and replacing her with Mohan Peiris, a man against whom there are many charges of impropriety auguring ill for prospects of the law being upheld from Hulftsdorp. 

There have been many examples of eggs being stolen by this administration long before the Ox was stolen in Hulftsdorp. For instance appointments and non-appointments affecting the quality of freedoms in national life in violation of the Constitutional Council established under the Seventeenth Amendment. The administration was testing the waters and when it became obvious that we would take no personal risks by protesting, stole the entire legal apparatus which guarantees all our fundamental freedoms.

The UGC Chairmanship

Now to one of the stolen eggs. The UGC runs our universities and is one of the most important mechanisms for ensuring quality education. Thus the Chairman of the UGC at least has always been a person of strong academic accomplishments even though political trust also has been a consideration.

However, the appointment of Gamini Samaranayake as Chairman in March 2006 came as a jolt because he was still an Associate Professor and had great shortcomings which we need not dwell on. His main qualification for the apex office in the university system was that he had vigorously campaigned for the President in Nov. 2005 and, it is said, authored the President’s “Chintanaya” – his “Thoughts” or Manifesto. We academics kept quiet because if we commented we could not go to him for favours and he as UGC Chairman had the power to stunt our careers. How he, once Chairman, put himself through two promotions, first to Professor and then to Senior Professor, and how new UGC Circulars helped in those promotions is history (The Sunday Leader, 8 May 20011).

UGC Chairmanship Renewal in 2011

Samaranayake’s five year term of office (03/2006-03/2011) was lack-lustre. It is widely known that many like the Minister for Higher Education, S.B. Dissanayake, were very unhappy and had asked for his removal but the President was loyal to Samaranayake and wanted him to serve out his term. During this period many of the UGC’s functions were usurped by the Ministry as Samaranayake kept a low profile but obeyed the President beyond the call of duty and even in violation of the law.

A classic example is in facilitating Nalin de Silva’s unlawful appointment at Kelaniya. de Silva being a leader of the Tamil-bashing coalition supporting Rajapaksa, Rajapaksa and de Silva needed each other. So de Silva of Sri Jayawardenepura moved to Kelaniya and became Dean there on Samaranayake’s watch well after he had passed his mandatory retirement age of 65 under the Universities Act.

de Silva, previously fired from University of Colombo on disciplinary grounds, has been described by Kelaniya academics as “an arch-Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist who rejects modern science although he is the Dean of Science Faculty of the university.” My own exchange with de Silva was when I was the UGC’s point man on revising the Circular for professorial promotions and de Silva came to the UGC representing FUTA and made self-serving nationalist arguments. For example his position was that the UGC was wallowing in colonial servility by giving higher value in promotion exercises to indexed foreign journal articles and books published by prestigious publishers like Oxford University Press and John Wiley, than to locally and self-published material on which he had built his career.

Reappointment of Samaranayake and FUTA Strike

The Samaranayake UGC’s term expired in March 2011. Samaranayake was seeking a second term while Minister S.B. Dissanayake had been promised a change and others including H. Abeyagunawardena (presently Member, UGC) were lobbying hard for the job. It seemed at the time that Abeyagunawardena had been promised the post. But the President who runs on favoured boot-lickers who would do anything for him did not have the heart to tell Samaranayake. Characteristically of him, the President took no action, enjoying all the lobbying and sucking up from various aspirants, at the expense of the university system running rudderless without anyone at the helm; no Chairman and none of the other 6 members either.

Then in April the university system ground to a halt with, one, a FUTA Strike which crippled the universities when Department Heads resigned their posts and no one was available for administrative work, and, two, legal issues involving the SL Medical Council over the conduct of exams for ranking medical graduates from various universities for placement in internships.  Samaranayake who was still coming to the UGC pretending to be the Chairman, was asked now officially to take administrative actions on these two problems, actions having no standing in law. So without a UGC meeting he issued a UGC decision as contained in Circular 956 requiring three months’ notice for a Head to resign. Other UGC directives also were issued and agreements made with the SLMC.

At this point if a person other than Samaranayake was appointed UGC Chairman, all these shenanigans with his signature would come undone. So to rectify and legalise these purported actions a UGC with Samaranayake as Chairman was appointed with backdated letters.

Pacifying Aspirants

Others who were hoping to be Chairman were assuaged saying it was a temporary stop-gap measure until Samaranayake turned 65. Even at that time, for this lawless regime the law meant nothing. For, the law holds in the Universities Act   5 (1): “Every member of the Commission, including the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, shall, unless he vacates office earlier, hold office for a term of five years reckoned from the date of his appointment, and shall, unless removed from office, be eligible for reappointment.”

Thus Samaranayake can leave his post only under four conditions: he finishes his 5 year term, he quits, he is removed by the President or he dies or is otherwise indisposed.

As a result we simply assumed that Samaranayake being on a short term appointment was mere spin simply to put off and not offend hangers-on vying for his job.

Samaranayake Retires; The Law in a Coffin

However, now Samaranayake is really retiring from the UGC under a misapplication of Section 73 of the Act: “The holder of a post of teacher […] shall continue in that post until he has completed his sixty-fifth year.” This applies only to his substantive post of teacher from which he was released to be UGC Chairman and not to his 5-year term as UGC Chairman.

According to reports he has already returned to Peradeniya preparatory to retirement. Having misapplied this provision to Samaranayake as UGC Chairman, even Abeyagunawardene cannot now be appointed. Or do these niceties matter?

Being a loyal stooge, Samaranayake will not grumble. Yet we mourn his premature end of term against the provisions of the Universities Act because with him the rule of law, already in a coffin, gets yet another nail.

Post Script: The appointment of Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama as the new UGC Chairman has just been announced with effect from the end of the month. She is presently the VC of University of Colombo which post she would need to relinquish as a result of the appointment.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Hirimburegama is another boot licker.She will [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    Four recent and grave mistakes led to the downfall, firstly recommendations of the presidential expert committee appointed after correction of serious errors in calculation of z-score were not implemented, and instead four options on arbitrary percentages were presented. Intentionally correct and recommended method was not given as an option instead four options which were all irregular methods were presented correct and recommended method was not given.

    Secondly he kept the officer who was responsible for series blunders in his place without sacking him when he makes one or two blunders and he tried to cover up his bungling up admissions unsuccessfully.

    Thirdly they decided to give two unequal cutoff marks after standardization, statistically whole purpose of standardization is to give a single cut off mark on a common and a single list of standardized cohort of candidates which is incompetence, and lack of basic knowledge in statistics which is a basic requirement to conduct in scientific research.

    Fourthly expert advice and genuine help to resolve the issues were offered they were not prepared to accept. Senior Judge is no longer there and the UGC chairmen stepped down because of intentional errors of a single officer. He should resign and they should recall the expert advice and reopen the issue to stop this vicious cycle of events. The pioneers and the real experts in statistics can resolve these issues very easily. Still there is plenty of room for correction. Both the chairmen of the UGC and Chief Justice would have stayed in their positions. It is a god lesson, always be prepared to look in to the views of the experts in a particular field of science.

    • 0
      0

      Established methodology in scientific measurements cannot be violated.

      Where ever and when ever the statistical methods are used, established procedure and correct mythology need be followed, international standards need to be maintained. If the methodology is wrong results draw out of that procedure will be rejected and unacceptable.

      Use of arbitrary two cutoff marks on Zee score is improper and inappropriate. Use of incorrect methodology is an indication of large scale corruption. This type of manipulation gives a bad reputation to the institution.

      Obviously, these types of activities are irregular and dishonest. Scientist all over the world does not approve such irregular methods.

      • 0
        0

        There are zero allocations for university admissions according to the previously unknown and newly devised method prepared by Priyantha Premakumara. Numbers of students allocated for many faculties from many districts for the new syllabus are zero. For many faculties the percentages are arbitrary and very low.

        From Mathara district only 23 percent (only 10 students) from the new syllabus enter the medical faculties where as 84 percent (47 students ) would be selected from the old syllabus very high ranks z-score over 2.1 is not given a place z-score as law as 1.8 is given that place from the same district.

        http://www.sundaytimes.lk/130127/news/varsity-hopefuls-from-2012-al-batch-face-uncertain-future-30541.html

        For the Hambanthota district new syllabus only 29% and old syllabus 92% for the medical faculties. In other subject streams such as Law faculty, management and finance and in arts subjects the old syllabus is discriminated.

        For all the faculties, university admissions have been messed up and they themselves blame the Judiciary for messing up. It is high time for all the other UGC officials responsible for the messing up also to resign. Entire younger generation has lost faith in the university education system and in the new method of selection for university education devised by the UGC.

        • 0
          0

          Thanks for the article reverence nd the URL address from Sunday times. That explains the present and future problems on University damsons.

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lankan whole University system completely destroyeed by this man. Today Sri Lanka is the only country professors without minimum 15 publications in high end indexed journals (Scopus and ISI) and PhD from top ranking Universities.The most humerous Senior Professor title given to jokers. No where in the world such joker title can be found.Recheck the qualifications of Sri Lankan professors by universties, faculty and dept wise. You will see 99% professors are fake and absurd. Moratuwa Universty 99% professorships are given for publications in IESL journal. It is no where indexed or listed and all editing done by authors. Same medical faculty. Arts worse. Many female profesors with back/leg seal from VC for promotion. That is why no one will recognised Sri Lankan University degrees.Regional Universities, Rajarata, Sabaragamuwa, Ruhuna…worse.Famous Colombo, Kalaniya and Peradaniya professor appointments gave for the letters from President house.

    • 0
      0

      Long established method of university admissions was also destroyed , national policy on university admissions have been changed without informing the students prior to the examinations. In the years 2011/12 totally new method based on percentages has been experimenting. For the fist time this irregular method was created more than one year after the examination, violating all legitimate expectations of the students by the additional secretary for admissions. UGC chairman had to resign because of the secretary to admissions. He did not implement the recommendations of the committee headed by the secretary to the president, they recommended the long established method of common list and a single cutoff mark as it was used in 2001. Additional secretary messed up with university admissions so the Chairmen had to resign. If they try to implement a two grossly unequal irregular cut off mark system instead of standard single cutoff system how many more will have to be resigned remains to be seen.

  • 0
    0

    Yes Ranjith you are 100% correct. RECHECK THE QUALIFICATIONS OF SRI LANKA ALL PROFESSORS.99% are fake out door connection based. Lecturer appointments and promotions worse. As he righly pointed out all the female lecturers one way or other slept with their superiors including VC, Dean, Head etc.I left as a girl University teacher post because day and night I do not want sleep with every VC, Dean and Head to get my increament and promotion. This is the true story inside Universities.Some are family Dept. Grand father Emritus and sones, daughters, uncles, sons friends…etc. Colombo University Arts faculty such famous family dept exist.

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lankan universities are full of mediocre personalities.(with some exceptions), The UGC chairmen /Vice Chancellor is always a boot licker of the existing government.

    The promotions are based on a point system. One does not have to be a distinguished academic to be a professor.If you know how to manipulate the point system one can be a professor easily. A hopeless person suddenly writes a book on a useless topic. This book is not worth even for wrapping paper.No need for publications in international peer reviewed high impact journals.Do three months work, spend two years and get a M Phil.Be a member of a useless committee and get points.These professors are called ‘abstract professors’

    Universities are pits of snakes.Genuine academics who dedicate time for teaching and research get back stabbing.So anybody with a good track record will either leave the institution or end up depressed.
    That is why our universities are not even in the first 1000 universities of world rankings.

    I can challenge anyone if I am wrong on any of these facts!

  • 0
    0

    Any scientific researcher would explain that it is absolutely wrong to give two unequal cut-off marks for university admissions after z-score standardization of results obtained in three different examination papers.

    It is an insult to the scientists and academics in Sri Lanka. Internationally Sri Lankans become big jokers, these disgraceful events lead to irreversible damage to the reputation of Sri Lankans internationally. If this happens, retrospectively these errors will be recorded as one of the biggest mistakes done in the field of education in Sri Lanka

  • 0
    0

    HE Presdent, please recheck qualifications of all Sri Lankan Professors you will find more than 10% without first degrees(PIM Example) and 45% without PhDs (Ruhuna ,Sabaragamuwa, Rajarata, Colombo and all places) 99% without 15 international publications and PhD from top ranking Universities. With immediate effect publish their qualifications and sack and say them to pay back the salary they got for nothing covering up to wrong title

  • 0
    0

    Can any body say how the former Colombo University VC’s son entered to Kalaniya University Medical faculty without Sri Lankan A/L by using a foreign passport. Now he is aboard practicing as medical man. No inquiry or cancell his MBBS degree.

  • 0
    0

    We know about this corruptive VC. His another son became Lecturer his own Dept. Daughter same. God bless Sri Lankan family joker University system

  • 0
    0

    Somebody has to recheck UGC unversity admission to Medical and Eng. faculties. Because many powerful officers’ and politicians’ sons and daughters in Universities without Sri Lankan A/L. Good exmaple is this bias corruptive former VC of CMB. I guess President Chandirika removed him from VC position but stayed inside University and now Emritus running family deptinside Colombo University.

  • 0
    0

    Whole Sri Lanka full of BOGUS PROFESSORS. Even in private tutories people use this title wihout not knowing the meaning of it. Good example is GISMlk.com and see. Self-claimed professors there has only NDT degree and not even qualify to get Lecturer position from Sri Lankan Universities. UGC has to stop these fake title users.

  • 0
    0

    So the UGC chairman had to resign on admission issues.

    Priyantha Premakumara is known as the additional secretary responsible for university admissions. Since 2011 university admissions have become a real nightmare.

    • 0
      0

      The mess-up created cannot be resolved until they go back to the standard well established method of admissions. They first got the Z score calculation wrong, now arbitrary parentages.

  • 1
    0

    New UGC chairwoman can correct wrong professor positions given in this poor country. Cancell all the professorships given to people without PhDs from good ranking Universities and without minimum 15 publications in ISI and Scopus levels journals. Even without first degree professor psotions are given to many example PIM J’pura Uditha All member of his professor committee later appointed as dorectors to PIM by him.

  • 0
    0

    Thousands of commerce, arts, mathematics and law students, physical science, management and finance qualified with 3As in old syllabus and having high ranks in old syllabus will not be absorbed according to the irregular percentage method used by the UGC.

    Next year also they take on arbitrary percentages. Well over 600 qualified students for medicine from the new syllabus with z sores over 2.0 and over 1.95 will be left alone instead they take students with low z scores as 1.7 and 1.85 from the same districts.

    Thousands of students qualified for bio science, agriculture and I T from the new syllabus with high island ranks will be denied admission, instead zee scores low as 1.5 from the other group will be absorbed. Thousands of students already know the 2012 results will be competing for a limited number of potions again with high ranks.

    No body knows about the irregular percentages for next year, long existing admission policy have been changed without informing prior to the examination. That is the type of bungled university admissions which the new UGC chair person has to resolve.

    The only solution is to reestablish the long exiting method and take additional students on that basis. In the coming years repercussions from the qualified and left over students will become an enormous problem.

  • 0
    0

    Those who are responsible for university admissions need to be resigned.

    They messed up with calculation of z scores then experimented with a percentage method without informing prior to the examinations, one and half years delay in admissions after 2011 August examination.

    There is a well established method for admissions, how can they devise a new method after the examinations. He bungled the next year (2012) admissions as well.

    Why don’t they resign? Why do the new UGC chairmen remove them after continuous failures in method of admissions?

    • 0
      0

      It seems like just a one person, single-handedly bungled with examination results and university admissions for millions of students. 2011 2012 and 2013 all bungled and bungled.

      Just a single additional secretary is responsible for all these intentional mishaps. What a sad situation, there was a perfect standardized method for university admissions, why did they destroy every thing.

      Courts should recommend returning to long established accepted method of single cut off system to solve all these problems, until then these bungled issue cannot be solved, it will go on for several years.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.