By Saman Indrajith
A government’s move to remove the Universities of Colombo and Peradeniya from the purview of University Grants Commission (UGC) and turn them into profit earning institutions was disclosed at a recent meeting of the parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), according to sources.
The proposal was discussed at the Higher Education Sub Committee of the Education Sectoral Oversight Committee sessions on May 12 and 19 at the parliamentary complex. At those meetings a UNP MP proposed the removal of the two universities from the UGC’s purview. The University of Colombo representatives present at those two meetings were agreeable to the proposal. None from the University of Peradeniya was present at the meetings attended by senior officials of the Higher Education Ministry’s Division on Private Institutions awarding university degrees, according to sources.
The two universities should be removed from the administrative purview of the UGC and allowed to function independently to earn profits, the UNP MP concerned pointed out at the meeting.
The key officials of the University of Colombo were summoned for the COPE meeting held on July 4th to inquire into the proceedings of the higher education sub-committee. Upon being questioned the Colombo Vice Chancellor admitted that they were willing to accept the proposal for full autonomy.
The University of Colombo needed to modify its courses and start new ones which would be profit-earning, the university representatives said at the COPE meeting. For that purpose it needed more autonomy to recruit academic and non-academic staff without being hindered by Administrative and Financial regulations of the UGC, they said. Under the proposed system, the two universities could function independently and transform themselves into profit earning institutions.