News

FUTA alleges ‘illegal’ civilian admissions to KDU

  • Claims 100 bio stream State undergrads to be enrolled
  • Alleges UGC collusion in KDU legitimisation 

By Pamodi Waravita

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) on 14 September demanded an immediate end to the continued admission of civilian students to the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU), as they claim that it is “illegal” to do so.

“The KDU is continuing to illegally admit civilian students and has recently published advertisements to recruit students to a broad range of undergraduate study programmes. In addition, the Government is deceitfully supporting this continued illegality by directing a batch of approximately 100 students, currently following various programmes of study in biology related streams in the State university system, to the KDU Medical Faculty,” claimed the FUTA.

“These students were unfairly denied an opportunity to enter medical education due to a monumental blunder caused by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2019. Rather than redressing this injustice by broadening access in the State medical faculties, the Government and top officials invested in promoting the KDU agenda at all costs are channelling these students to the KDU which has no legal provision for civilian education.”

The FUTA also commented on the controversial Kotelawala National Defence University (KNDU) Bill, which received widespread criticism from various quarters for its alleged threats to free education and the militarisation of education.

“The KNDU Bill was supposed to provide the legal framework for the KDU to admit civilian students. We observe, with alarm, that there appears to be an influential bloc within the Government that seems to be determined to legitimise the KDU at any cost. What is also deeply problematic is that the UGC, an administrative body that is expected to play an independent role in managing the State university system is colluding in this process.”

A range of demonstrations have taken place throughout Colombo over the last two months in protest over the aforementioned Bill which was tabled in Parliament on 7 July, where over 31 arrests were made. Although the Bill was due to be taken up for a vote on 6 August, the Irrigation Minister, and the National Security and Disaster Management, and Home Affairs State Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said that more time is needed to consider the Bill.

The FUTA added that while they understand that many civilian students have already obtained their degrees from the KDU, this “illegal” process should not be continued, and warned of secondary and tertiary sector educationists who will rise up against this “deceitful” continuation.

A total of 49 civil society organisations (CSOs) and 126 civil society actors have also echoed the call to stop the “ruling Party’s attempts to pass the KNDU Bill.”

Furthermore, they have stressed that the Government should be held responsible for endangering the health of student activists, who were arrested last month, following their participation in protests against the Bill.

“In our observation, most of these arrests were made under false charges of violating the quarantine laws. Student activists have been denied bail, accusing them of damaging public property by setting fire to a model of a coffin during the protest,” said the CSOs in their statement on 14 September.