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 No action on non-returnee lecturers - FUTA

No action on non-returnee lecturers - FUTA

2013 May 13

By  Rukshana Rizwie and Sandun Jayawardana
The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) has accused the University Grants Commission (UGC) for its lethargy to act on lecturers who have failed to return to the country having completed their doctorate studies.
Responding to reports that over 500 university lecturers who have gone abroad to pursue their doctorate studies have not returned to the island, FUTA Head, Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri lamented that the UGC could do more to resolve the issue but alleged it was remaining nonchalant.

“This is one of the pressing issues that FUTA has been vocal about. The UGC keeps saying that they are working on it but we see no groundwork,” he said. “University lecturers will undoubtedly continue to pursue their further studies abroad.”
According to him, lecturers feel that foreign universities offer better opportunities and facilities to pursue studies. Many of them offer scholarships while job prospects are far more lucrative than it could be here, he noted.

“For a university lecturer to sign a bond and risk it knowing the consequences shows how unsatisfied they are with the local education system and their eagerness to stay and work too,” he said. “If one were to look at this list of lectures that have gone abroad, one will be shocked at some of the names since many of leading and well known academics have gone abroad and never returned since.”
Dr Dewasiri cited that the budget allocation for education at 2% is too little to make any improvements.

When contacted, UGC Chairperson Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, while admitting some 500 lecturers had gone abroad, said action was being taken to recover the bonds signed by these lecturers. She added lecturers who sign a written agreement assuring they will complete their studies within a given time period and return will be excluded from the fund recovering process. However, the UGC Head denied claims that there was a ‘brain drain’ in the country as far as university lecturers going abroad was concerned.
“Over 4,000 lecturers still continue to serve in our universities. There is no such brain drain,” she claimed.

Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education Dr Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne said many lecturers who went abroad for postgraduate studies during the war years had chosen to stay on, rather than return after completing their studies. He said the government was also currently looking at drawing up a plan where these lecturers can return without having to pay off any bonds they signed.
“The President is very keen on getting them back to serve the country and we will work towards achieving that goal,” he stressed.

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