Expansion of university facilities including hostels at a standstill
Several projects in the higher education sector have come to a standstill as the World Bank has suspended funding after the Government declared its inability to keep to its debt commitments. As much as Rs three billion has been held back and therefore some important projects have stalled, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Sampath Amaratunge said recently. He said these stalled projects had severely affected the higher education sector as several proposed projects as well as ongoing projects were affected. Among the projects affected were plans to expand the universities to increase the intake of new students.
The intake of new students was to be increased from 32,000 to 42,000 this year banking on the World Bank’s support, Prof. Amaratunge said. With the intake increases, infrastructure facilities including hostels were also to be expanded, but these projects too came to a standstill. Moreover, several universities hired new staff to keep up with the increased student numbers, Prof. Amaratunge said. He said some of the bills have already been received to make the required payments for projects carried out, but the UGC was unable to pay the bills.
Despite the lack of funding, the UGC was not willing to discontinue or cancel some of these projects. Prof. Amaratunge said they were planning to appeal to the Government to provide the necessary funding to continue these projects. Moreover, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said they were hopeful about resolving the issues as soon as possible. -DWI