The University Grants Commission (UGC) has appealed to President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Government to allow it to fill urgent vacancies in universities to ensure that the education of university students continues unhindered. The government has declared a freeze on most recruitments to the State sector owing to the prevailing economic crisis. The directive also applies to State universities. There are currently some 4,000 academic, non-academic, and administrative vacancies in universities, UGC Chairman Sampath Amaratunge told Education Times.
The government has also increased this year’s university intake to 42,500 students, with several new faculties being opened at different universities. However, there are currently not enough lecturers or other staff to handle this number of students, Prof Amaratunge revealed. He said universities could continue without any disruption this year if they are allowed to recruit at least 500 academic, 150 non-academic, and 50 administrative staff. Meanwhile, about 2,500 probationary lecturers who have completed their two years of probation continue to languish on waiting lists without being made permanent given the recruitment freeze.
Prof Amaratunge said the law does not allow for the probation period to be further extended. “As such, we have a situation where these lecturers may be forced to look for other jobs.” The UGC has brought these issues to the attention of the President, and the Chairman said the response had been encouraging. A Cabinet sub-committee has now been appointed to look into the possibility of filling the most urgently required vacancies. Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said he is working with the Finance Ministry to fill the urgently required vacancies as soon as possible. -DWI