Monday, October 3, 2011

An appeal against infringement of university autonomy

What is published below is an appeal signed by university academics from universities across Sri Lanka urging the government to desist from allowing various branches of the government and state to infringe upon university autonomy and academic freedom.

At the request of the signatories to the appeal it will be kept open for signatures to be collected as an indication of the desire of theuniversity academic community to preserve its autonomy and freedom.

If you share the sentiments expressed in the appeal and are willing to join the growing list of signatories, please send an e-mail to expressing your willingness to sign the appeal, with your name and the university you are attached to and a contact number to verify the authenticity of your participation. 

An appeal against infringement of university autonomy

The Ministry of Higher Education has issued a directive that all state universities should hire the services of Rakna Lanka Ltd for provision of security services. The undersigned of the University academic community considers that directive to be in complete contravention of the norms and conventions by which universities are expected to function. 

The letter issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education seeks to bypass standard procedures that are followed in the university system in the hiring and outsourcing of services. That process requires tenders to be called for and for a suitable company to be selected in a transparent and independent manner. The Secretary’s instruction therefore is in violation of established processes and is contrary to the underpinning principles of governance and the autonomy of academic institutions.  

Rakna Lanka is held out to be a government owned commercial security venture and has been set up under the Ministry of Defence, under the direct supervision of the Secretary to that Ministry. The website of Rakna Lanka states that only ex-servicemen are hired by the company. The website also provides a list of other state owned departments that have hired the services of Rakna Lanka.

Internationally, privatization of security has been debated on intensely owing to the sensitive nature of what is termed as “security” and how such “security” is maintained. Experiences in other parts of the world suggest that accountability should be increased in the maintenance of security, not decreased. In that light, the directive by the ministry that all security in all state universities should be handed over to one commercial enterprise owned by the state, coming under the supervision of one public officer, becomes problematic. Holding such an entity accountable to the university authorities could, predictably, become difficult.

It is important that universities retain their independence in matters of hiring and recruiting, tailored to suit the individual needs of each university.  The authorities should abide by just and fair procedure, engage in dialogue and consultation with the University community, and give due recognition to the positions occupied by University authorities, the Vice Chancellors and others in these matters. It is of the utmost importance that university autonomy is preserved under such circumstances. 
We are also concerned about the increasing infringement of university autonomy in matters pertaining to academic programmes and in decision making by the state. We are especially concerned about the role the military establishment is increasingly  playing   in the administrative and academic spheres of the universities, which are a place of free exchange of ideas, critical thinking, and innovation. We of course have in mind the leadership training programme conducted by the Military to university entrants,  which, arbitrarily  imposed on all concerned, reduced the authority of the academic community within its own area of purview. This last development of encroachment via hiring procedure by the Ministry of Defence is seen as a further elaboration of this trend of increasing militarization of the universities.

As an academic community we are willing and able to cooperate effectively with the authorities in these and other issues facing university administration and academic quality.  We urge the government to respect its obligations toward the academic community and the universities with respect to its written and unwritten contract with the university system.


    1. Ranil Abayasekara, University of Peradeniya
    2. Upul Abeyrathne, University of Ruhuna
    3. M. Alfred,University of Peradeniya
    4. Liyanage Amarakeerthi, University of Peradeniya
    5. Jayantha Amarasinghe, University of Ruhuna
    6. Harini Amarasooriya, Open University of Sri Lanka
    7. Udeni Appuhamilage, University of Peradeniya
    8. K. K. I. U. Arunakumara, University of Ruhuna
    9. O. G. Dayarathna Banda, University of Peradeniya
    10. T.M.Wijekoon Banda, University of Ruhuna
    11. H. M. N. Bandara, University of Peradeniya
    12. Nilanthi Bandara, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
    13. Vajira P. Bulugahapitiya, University of Ruhuna
    14. Noel Dias, University of Colombo
    15. Suresh de Me, University of Peradeniya 
    16. Sampath Deegalla, University of Peradeniya
    17. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, University of Colombo
    18. D G Dharmarathne, University of Sabaragamuwa
    19. Priyan Dias, University of Moratuwa
    20. Ananda Edirisuriya, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
    21. A. Ekanayake, University of Peradeniya
    22. Lesly Ekanayake, University of Moratuwa
    23. Manil Fonseka, University of Peradeniya
    24. Primal Fernando, University of Peradeniya
    25. Lakshman Galagedara, University of Peradeniya
    26. J. R. Gamage, University of Moratuwa
    27. Hans Gray, University of Moratuwa
    28. Suranjith Gunasekera, University of Ruhuna
    29. Chandika Gunasinghe, University of Ruhuna
    30. Jagath  Gunatilake, University of Peradeniya
    31. Ranil D. Guneratne, University of Colombo
    32. Camena Guneratne, Open University of Sri Lanka
    33. Dileni Gunewardena, University of Peradeniya
    34. K Guruparan, University of Jaffna
    35. Rangika Halwatura, University of Moratuwa
    36. K. R. B. Herath, University of Peradeniya
    37. S. R. Herath, University of Peradeniya
    38. Sanath Hettiarachchi, University of Ruhuna
    39. Shyamani Hettiarachchi, University of Kelaniya
    40. Rohini Hewamanna, University of Colombo
    41. C.S. Hewawasam University of Peradeniya,
    42. M. I. M. Ishak, University of Peradeniya
    43. Nilmini Jayasena, University of Peradeniya
    44. Ruwan Jayasinghe, University of Peradeniya
    45. Gehan Jayasuriya, University of Peradeniya
    46. Barana Jayawardana, University of Peradeniya
    47. Sanath Jayawardana, University of Moratuwa
    48. Janaki Jayawardena, University of Colombo
    49. Bimali Jayawardene, University of Kelaniya
    50. Romaine Jayewardene, University of Colombo
    51. J. M. A. Jayawickrama, University of Peradeniya
    52. Senarathne Kariyawasam, University of Peradeniya
    53. Danesh Karunanayake, University of Peradeniya
    54. Parakrama Karunaratne, University of Peradeniya
    55. Shiromi Karunaratne, University of Moratuwa
    56. Dulakshi Karunasinghe, University of Peradeniya
    57. Gamini Keerawella, University of Peradeniya
    58. Manikya Kodithuwakku, Open University of Sri Lanka
    59. S. R. Kodituwakku, University of Peradeniya
    60. E.C. Kulasekere, , University of Moratuwa
    61. L. C. Kurukulasuriya, University of Peradeniya
    62. Hemantha Kumara, University of Ruhuna
    63. Amal Kumarage, University of Moratuwa
    64. Shamala Kumar, University of Peradeniya
    65. A. K. Jeewaka Saman Kumara, University of Peradeniya
    66. Darshana Liyanage, University of Ruhuna
    67. Rita Liyanage, University of Peradeniya
    68. Terrence Madhujith, University of Perdeniya
    69. R. Maheswaran, University of Peradeniya
    70. V. Maheswaran, University of Peradeniya
    71. Kumara Mahipala MBP, University of Peradeniya
    72. Sanjeeva Maithripala, University of Peradeniya
    73. T. Manoharan,University of Peradeniya
    74. Sudesh Mantilake, University of Peradeniya
    75. A. L. M. Mauroof, University of Peradeniya
    76. Mahim Mendis, Open Univeristy of Sri Lanka
    77. Madhava Meegaskumbura, University of Peradeniya
    78. R. Meegaskubura, University of Peradeniya
    79. Suyama Meegaskumbura, University of Peradeniya
    80. A.M. Navaratne Bandara, University of Peradeniya
    81. Nilhan Niles, University of Moratuwa
    82. Lakshman Nugapitiya, University of Peradeniya
    83. Rathnamali Palamakumbura, University of Peradeniya
    84. Ranjith W. Pallegama, University of Peradeniya
    85. Upali Pannilage, University of Ruhuna
    86. Indunil Pathirana, University of Ruhuna
    87. K. P. P. Pathirana, University of Peradeniya
    88. Susantha Pathirana, University of Peradeniya
    89. Sriyani Peiris, University of Peradeniya
    90. Sujeeva Sebastian Pereira, University of Sri Jayawardhanapura
    91. Asoka Perera, University of Moratuwa
    92. Kaushalya Perera, University of Kelaniya
    93. K.E.D. Perera, University of Ruhuna
    94. Niranjala Perera, Wayamba University
    95. Amalka Pinidiyaarachchi, University of Peradeniya
    96. I.R. Priyantha, University of Ruhuna
    97. Rupika Subashini Rajakaruna, University of Peradeniya
    98. Dharma Rajapaksha, University of Ruhuna
    99. Aruna Rajapakse, University of Peradeniya
    100. Sanath Rajapakse, University of Peradeniya
    101. Chinthana Rajapakshe, University of Moratuwa
    102. Shamila Ahamed Rajaratne, University of Peradeniya
    103. Manoj Ranaweera, University of Moratuwa
    104. Romola Rassool, University of Kelaniya
    105. Nimal Ratnayake,  University of Peradeniya
    106. Rohana Ratnayake, Open University of Sri Lanka
    107. Asanga Ratnaweera, University of Peradeniya
    108. Athulasiri Kumara Samarakoon, Open Univeristy of Sri Lanka
    109. Dinesha Samararatne, University of Colombo
    110. K. Samarasinghe, University of Peradeniya
    111. Gameela Samarasinghe, University of Colombo
    112. Manjula Sandirigama, University of Peradeniya
    113. A.B . Shanthasiri, University of Ruhuna 
    114. I. M. S. Sathyaprasad, University of Peradeniya
    115. V. N. Seneviratne, University of Peradeniya
    116. Janeeka de Silva, University of Ruhuna
    117. Kalinga Tudor Silva, University of Peradeniya
    118. M. Sitralega, Eastern University
    119. M A M Sitheeque, University of Peradeniya
    120. Sumathy Sivamohan, University of Peradeniya
    121. Upul Sonnadara, University of Colombo
    122. B.M Sumanaratne, University of Ruhuna
    123. V. Tharmathasan, University of Peradeniya
    124. R.O. Thattil, University of Peradeniya
    125. Vasanthi Thevanasam, University of Peradeniya
    126. S. Thiruchelvam, University of Peradeniya
    127. K.K.S Udayakantha, University of Ruhuna
    128. Dulan Wathugala, University of Colombo
    129. Ruvan Weerasinghe, University of Colombo
    130. Shahani Markus Weerawarana, University of Moratuwa
    131. Carmen Wickramagamage, University of Peradeniya
    132. Chandima Wickramasinghe, University of Peradeniya
    133. P. Wijekoon, University of Peradeniya
    134. A. W. Wijeratne, Sabaragamuwa University
    135. Nima Wijesiri, University of Peradeniya
    136. K.M.S. Wimalasiri, University of Peradeniya
    137. B. Dileepa Witharana, Open University of Sri Lanka

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