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UGC told to act on Dons dropping out of studies at State expense

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It was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) recently that although 13 university lecturers had been given Rs. 25 million as beneficiaries for their Postgraduate Studies from 2009 to 2017, they had dropped out of their respective degree courses.

It was also revealed that in 2017, 12 lecturers from eight universities had got approval for funds amounting to Rs. 34.3 million for research but these funds had not been utilized.

It was also disclosed that 15 post-doctoral students have dropped out of universities in the recent past and COPE Chairperson Prof. Charitha Herath has pointed out the importance of taking legal action against all of them.

These facts were revealed at the COPE meeting held recently under the chairmanship of Prof. Herath to inquire into the report of the Auditor General (AG) on the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the current performance for Year 2019.

Meanwhile, UGC Vice President Senior Professor Chandana P. Udawatte said the UGC has already planned legal action against university lecturers who have not completed their doctoral degrees after obtaining Government funding.

He said that work was still being done in this regard and that the monies lost can be recovered from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) of the respective lecturers.

More than 400 lecturers have already applied for this funding and more than 200 of them are still in the process of applying.

He also said that the Government has spent hundreds of thousands of rupees to fund doctoral degrees but some university lecturers have left the universities without completing their studies.

He said that action was being taken to deduct the monies allocated by the Government for the doctoral degree from the EPF at the time of retirement of such university lecturers and to recover any balance through legal processes.

It is reported that there are around 5,500 to 6,000 lecturers working in the 12 State universities in the country, not counting semi-Government and private entities that award degrees.

There is also the problem of university lecturers who go abroad for doctoral studies staying back and becoming permanent residents or citizens of those countries, which deprives Sri Lanka of their services. The Government was compelled to publish a list of their names and last known local addresses in local newspapers a few years ago to expose them.

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