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FUTA vows to stop private university bill

Dasun Edirisinghe –  Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) yesterday vowed to stop the introduction of an Act to enable the setting up of private universities here and that would be the main demand of their token strike scheduled for Jannuary 17, the Association said.

FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri said that according to the agreement entered with the Higher Education Ministry when they suspended their trade union action on July 21, 2011, the ministry promised to consult university teachers when taking decisions on the university sector in the future.

“A bill enabling private universities will be presented to Parliament shortly, but we haven’t been made aware of it so far,” he said.

Expressing their deep opposition to the new bill, Dr. Devasiri said that they did not want education to be turned into a commodity in this country.

The establishing or facilitating private universities was not a task for the government while thousands of problems prevailed in the state universities.

Similarly, the senior academic said that on the second demand made by FUTA for a salary hike the Ministry agreed to solve it in three stages, but there too nothing had been met even by the budget 2012.

As per the consensus reached, the basic salary of university academics should be raised by 20% by January 2012, he said.

Dr. Devasiri said that the FUTA also requested the government to consider allocating approximately 6% of GDP to the education sector and that too was in the agreement.

“We will stage this token strike as the government has failed to respond to our gentle reminders so far,” he said.

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake said that the new bill would be presented not to establish private universities but to regularize existing private degree awarding institutions here. The cabinet of ministers had approved the bill titled Quality Assurance Accreditation and Qualification Framework Bill and it would be presented to parliament immediately after it received clearance from the Legal Draftsman’s Department.

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