Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Minister said in 2010 October

Q: The crux of the problem is our universities are not attracting the best brains and even the brains we have are leaving in search of greener pastures all because of the poor remuneration provided. Though the government has promised to increase the salaries of university lecturers can it match the salaries provided by the private sector?
Still 80 percent of our professors can find employment any where in the world. If anyone thinks that they remain here for two-bit salaries because they cannot find employment abroad that is totally wrong. They have done their Masters and PhDs abroad and come back to Sri Lanka to serve because of their love for this country and the institution they are serving. They are not asking for salaries paid in USA, UK or Australia. But they no doubt deserve an increase. At the time I left the university, the difference between the starting salary of a university lecturer and that of a staff assistant at the Central Bank stood at forty rupees in favour of the university lecturer. A lecturer got Rs640 and a CB staff assistant was paid Rs600. Today the Central Bank pays Rs60,000 and the university pays Rs24,000. The President is well aware of this. And he met the lecturers in this regard along with Treasury Secretary Dr P.B. Jayasundera. So we have planned to provide them with a salary increase, a library allowance, a special educational allowance and other facilities. The professors and lecturers are not demanding big things, but they will be provided with a sizeable salary increase in the new budget. We also cannot afford to grant huge increases. If too big an increase is granted, others too will make demands. To retain their services we will make increases. When we get down ten to 15 international universities they can work part-time in them.

Q: You have even proposed making universities like Peradeniya, Colombo, Katubedda etc international universities, but without academic excellence and any path breaking research how do you propose to do that?
Already some brilliant and experienced professors who are working outside have promised to come. Even now most qualified and world recognised professors and senior lecturers are in our university system working for a small salary. Don’t say that our universities are not into research. True, we could not provide adequate research grants and allowances due to the costly war. Universities too were at fault for not requesting big research allowances. We have asked for all that. Now the lecturers and professors will have to come up with their research and publications. What we need to do first is to establish discipline, improve lectures; tutorials etc, then raising the standards will be very easy. In the recent past, the JVP unions did not permit the modernisation of syllabi or the exams. They passed exams by threatening their professors.

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