Jaffna University science teachers complain of foul play in recruitment

UGC Chairperson promises probe



By Dasun Edirisinghe


The Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) yesterday claimed that recruitment procedures in the university were abused through political interference by a member party of the ruling UPFA coalition.


According to a report prepared by the JUSTA’s Subcommittee for Academic Integrity––summary of the report appears on page seven in today’s edition of this newspaper––the political party concerned has been given monopoly over the appointment of external council members though by statute the responsibility lies with the UGC.


The political party kept a tight control over them by summoning them for pre-council gathering before each monthly council meeting, the report says.


When probationary or assistant lecturers are recruited to all faculties, the interview board drops the qualified persons with highest GPA (Grade Point Average) and other academic qualifications and experience, including post graduate and selected persons with low qualification, but with political backing, the JUSTA says.


According to the report, the March 2009 list of selections for Computer Applications Assistants (CAA) drawn from a mainly Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) list forwarded through the Ministry of Higher Education was prefaced with the Scheme of Recruitment which claimed candidates were sought by open advertisement.


Ministry of Higher Education sent a list of candidates for the post of labourer and they were told to obtain their qualifications and complete their applications. On 8th July, the Ministry telephoned the University to withdraw 30 names from the list already given and to include 23 names from a fresh list, the report says.


"We recommend that all cases of irregularities that have come to light be reviewed swiftly and highly qualified applicants that were excluded at interviews be called," the subcommittee has said.


The JUSTA also says that independent persons of repute with an appreciation of university values should be appointed to the Council as external members, and student representatives and academic staff should be allowed to review their qualifications. Internal members should be advised to resign their positions and seek a fresh mandate from their constituencies in the Faculties.


Chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, contacted for comment, said that the UGC was not aware of such a report.


She said that some time back the UGC had investigated the appointment of Jaffna University Vice Chancellor following a complaint that it had been made under political influence, but it had been proved that the appointment was not politically motivated.


The JUSTA should have submitted the report to the UGC first as it was the management authority of university academics, Prof. Hirimburegama said.


"If it is submitted to the UGC, I’ll definitely have a very impartial inquiry into their charges," she said.  


Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne said the scheme of recruitment of non-academic staff, whereby the lists were vetted by the area Minister had been in practice even before Minister S.B. Dissanayake took over the Higher Education portfolio.


 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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