Kelaniya undergrads cause traffic chaos during noon rush hour

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Traffic on the Colombo-Kandy road came to a standstill at Dalugama yesterday causing much inconvenience to the public due to a demonstration by the undergraduates of the Kelaniya University.

Hundreds of undergraduates staged a protest march from the administrative building of the university around noon.

Addressing journalists during the demonstration, President of the Kelaniya University Students’ Council Nipuna Thilanka said usually bout 55 bhikkhu students had been admitted to the university annually during the last decade but this year the number had been reduced to 26." Last year 68 bhikkhu undergraduates had been admitted, he said.

The number of bhikku undergrads admitted to all universities had been curtailed, the student activist said.

He said the other main demand was that students should be allowed to select their subjects as in previous years.

In the first year, undergraduates selected the subject for their degree courses but this year the students had to study the subjects selected by the faculty administration, Thilanka said, adding that it was a very unfair decision.

The student leader said that they also had 13 other demands including hostel facilities and welfare measures and their protests would continue until their demands were met.

"The university administration gave us a hearing after the demonstration, but Vice Chancellor Prof. Sunanda Maddumabandra failed to provide a solution," he said, adding that another discussion would be held today.

Student Affairs Director of the University Prof. Upali Hettiarachchi said talks with the students had been fruitful. "We will meet the students again to solve the problems based on our solutions," Prof. Hettiarachchi said.

Secretary of the State Ministry of Higher Education Piyasena Ranepura denied students’ claim that the number of bhikkhu undergraduates admitted to universities had curtailed.

He said that the University Grants Commission (UGC) selected students to universities according to their Z-score. He said there was no way anyone could prevent bhikku students who secured enough Z-score ratings for university education from enrolling for degree programmes.

He said that State Minister of Higher Education Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, who resigned from the post a week back, too, had met students at the ministry and explained the situation to them.

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