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University dons claim new circular violates academic freedom

University teachers yesterday accused the government of violating their academic freedom through a new circular prohibiting State sector officials from attending additional meetings, seminars and lectures without prior approval from the relevant ministry.

President of the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri told The Island that they received a circular from Higher Education Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne in this regard.

He said that the Higher Education Secretary issued the circular according to a recent Cabinet decision.

According to the circular, which was copied to the University Grants Commission Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake, the university academics would have to obtain prior approval of the Higher Education Ministry when they attend an additional seminar, lecture or a meeting, he said.

The senior academic said that the process of obtaining prior approval for such a purpose from the ministry would take at least two weeks.

“It is not practical as we already attend such activities at short notice,” Dr. Devasiri said.

He said that the FUTA Executive Committee would meet on April 09 (Monday) and decide on a future course of actions in this regard.

Higher Education Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne was not available for comment as he is abroad

by Dasun Edirisinghe


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