Universities find it difficult to accommodate additional intake

by Dasun Edirisinghe

 Although the University Grants Commission and the Higher Education Ministry vowed to admit over 5,000 additional students to universities, following a Supreme Court order, faculty boards of universities are crying foul due to a shortage of facilities to accommodate them.

Undergraduates claimed that some faculty boards decided to stop some academic courses and they had informed their decision to the UGC recently.

Convener of the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) Sanjeewa Bandara told The Island that two academic programmes of the Agriculture Faculty, of the Peradeniya University, had been suspended by the faculty board due to the huge increase in the number of students.

Normally, 50 undergraduates were admitted to the Animal Science and Fisheries degree programme, he said adding that this time an additional 29 students had been added to the course as the intake was increased to honour the court ruling.

Bandara said that the faculty board decided to stop the course due to lack of facilities to meet the enhanced intake.

He said that the UGC sent 56 more students to the Agricultural Technology and Management degree course in the same faculty and the faculty board decided to stop it too.The situation was same in the other universities, but yet had not informed the UGC, Bandara said.

When contacted for comment, Dean of the Peradeniya Agriculture Faculty Prof. K. Samarasinghe said that they had not stopped the degree programme, but they could not recruit the new batch as it was too big.

"We are conducting three degree programmes, Animal Science and Fisheries, Agricultural Technology and Management, Food Science and Technology," Prof. Samarasinghe said adding that 275 students had been enrolled for the three courses on the basis 200, 50 and 25 respectively.

There were some subjects common to all three degree programmes and the lecture halls could not accommodate more students at one time, he said.

Prof. Samarasinghe said because of that the faculty board decided not to enroll the new batch until additional facilities were given.

Secretary of the Higher Education Ministry Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne refused to comment.

"We will look after that and the media need not worry over those solutions," Dr. Navaratne said.

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