The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) have requested a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister of Higher Education Lakshman Kiriella to present a proposal to have academics categorized as a special category.
President, FUTA, Dr. Rangika Halwatura speaking to Nation said that they would also discuss several issues including admissions to grade one, vehicle permits, and salary increases.
The discussion would also focus on issues faced by the university students. Dr. Halwatura also said that Kiriella could not pass the ball solely to the administrations of the universities led by Vice-Chancellors when it came to the matter of students’ protests.
Kiriella was recently reported as stating that Vice Chancellors and university administrations should be held responsible if the students protested in front of the University Grants Commission (UGC) or the Lipton Circus, as they were the ones in charge of the control of all activities on campuses.
The FUTA also called for the establishment of an open and transparent process for the appointment and removal of members of the University Services Appeals Board. It was reported that previously, Kiriella as the appointing authority as per the Universities Act had dissolved the three-member Board, thereby violating the Act.
Dr. Halwatura said that if the administration of the universities were incapable of handling the matter, Kiriella too in his capacity as the Minister-in-Charge of the subject was to be held responsible. “Regardless of the positivity or negativity, a dialogue must take place between the students and the staff,” he added.
As there is the right to engage in politics, the administration and Kiriella must not attempt to misuse the situation by controlling students’ politics or stopping students’ politics or harassing students, he explained.
“The FUTA has at present engaged in a dialogue with the Inter-University Students’ Federation. Academics should not be entirely bookish but should be politically broad-minded. The administration should not be representatives of politicians,” he explained.