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Friday, May 27, 2011

They deserve a salary increase: Minister

Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00

By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera
The government has agreed in principle that salaries of university lecturers should be increased further, Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake told parliament yesterday.He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa met representatives of the Federation of University Teachers (FUTA) on Wednesday, and would meet top government officials before taking a final decision on this matter.
The minister said in the Budget the government announced a 36.5 per cent salary increase for lecturers whereas other public sector employees were given an increase of only five per cent.
“A ministry secretary is the highest paid public servant. They get only between Rs.45,000 and Rs.55,000 a month. But a senior professor gets more than double that amount as their monthly salary. Besides, they have various other facilities. They get sabbatical leave and can work at another university. Then, they get two salaries a month. We are not against it. Also, they earn a lot by working at other higher education institutions,” he said and added that the salaries of university should be increased.
The minister was responding to Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) front-liner Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
The minister said it was high time for the universities to become financially independent of the Treasury and as a step in this direction five per cent of the slots should be reserved for foreign students.
“These students will be asked to pay their course fees. In other countries, universities do not depend on treasury grants. They are financially independent. Hundred scholarships will be granted to foreign students this time. Students from regional countries will reap this benefit,” he said.
The minister allayed the fears that the state universities would be affected due to the government’s plan to establish non-state universities in the country.
“We assure that the quality of state universities will not drop as a result of this move.  We have secured 20 per cent of slots at the proposed non-state universities for local students under scholarship programmes. Our students will be able to study at Manipal University of India, Tokyo University and Buckingham New University next year based on their Z-score marks once they establish their branch campuses here,” he said.
The minister said the private Medical College in Malambe would reserve 20 per cent of their intake for those selected under the proposed scholarship programmess.
“We will also select 20 per cent of students for SLIIT at Malambe under the same system,” he said.