Admitting civilian students to KDU is illegal, unethical & enormously short-sighted : FUTA
The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) observed that the Kotelawala Defense University (KDU) is continuing to illegally admit civilian students and has recently published advertisements in newspapers and social media to recruit students to a broad range of undergraduate study programs.
In a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, FUTA claimed that the government is deceitfully supporting this continuing illegality by directing a batch of approximately 100 students, currently following various study programs in biology-related streams in the state university system, to the KDU medical faculty.
FUTA claims it is also deeply problematic that the University Grants Commission – an administrative body that is expected to play an independent role in managing the state university system – is colluding in this process.
"The government is ‘sponsoring’ these students, who were unfairly excluded from medical education due to the UGC’s flawed selection system, to follow medical education at the KDU – in effect subsidizing the KDU with state funds that can be used to broaden access to medical education in the state system."
FUTA remarked that these moves demonstrate arrogance and disregard towards public opinion and due process at a time when the proposed Kotelawala National Defense University (KNDU) bill has been temporarily withdrawn from parliament due to the massive national protest campaign against it.
"This is a government that appears to work with a singular-minded self-destructive attitude regardless of the consequences of its actions."
The KNDU bill was supposed to provide the legal framework for KDU to admit civilian students.
However, the government reconsidered its position after FUTA and a broad range of professional organizations, civil society organizations, trade unions, religious bodies, political parties, politicians and the public pointed out the dangers of mixing civilian and military education.
However, FUTA observed that there appears to be an influential bloc within the government that seems to be determined to legitimize the KDU at any cost.
The association stressed that the solution to broadening medical education opportunities in the country is not to deceitfully legitimize a military institution that has no legal or ethical right to provide civilian education but to broaden the opportunities available at state universities by channeling the funds allocated for these students to the state university medical faculties.
FUTA said they will support a reasonable solution on humanitarian grounds for the civilian students currently receiving education at KDU.
They stressed that, however, this illegality cannot continue claiming that the ad-hoc mixing of civilian and military education endangers the country's entire education system.
Claiming the full spectrum of educators representing secondary to tertiary sectors will rise up against this deceitful and illegal action, FUTA reminded that Sri Lanka is a democratic country where the democratic spirit of inclusive decision making is respected.
"We urge extreme caution to the government and demand that it abstains from causing further damage to the higher education system of this country."