President Wickremesinghe held a meeting with members of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday, October 13, to discuss critical matters related to Sri Lanka’s university system and faculty research allowances.
The primary agenda of the meeting, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD), was to address the urgent need to increase research allowances for university lecturers and to seek an exemption from taxation on these allowances. The discussion also delved into broader issues concerning the future of Sri Lanka’s higher education system.
Acknowledging the challenging economic conditions facing the nation, President Wickremesinghe reaffirmed the government’s commitment to promptly addressing these concerns, ultimately aiming to provide relief to the public. He stressed the importance of revising the current allowances for teaching staff to adequately support their research efforts and enhance the quality of research within Sri Lanka’s higher education institutions.
In light of this, the President encouraged officials to explore the possibility of issuing a new circular that would exempt these allowances from existing tax policies if deemed necessary to rectify the situation. He urged FUTA members to collaborate with the Education Ministry and the Attorney General’s office to find practical solutions, requesting a comprehensive report within three weeks.
Additionally, President Wickremesinghe unveiled the government’s intention to conduct a comprehensive study on the potential abolition of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and a complete restructuring of the entire university system in Sri Lanka. This restructuring aims to align the local system with models employed by reputable international institutions such as Deakin University and the University of California systems, with the goal of enhancing the quality and competitiveness of higher education in Sri Lanka. The President’s willingness to explore various options was warmly received by FUTA representatives.
The meeting included key figures such as President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, President’s Senior Adviser on Economic Affairs R.H.S. Samaratunga, former Minister Ravi Karunanayake, President of the University Teachers’ Association Prof. Barana Jayawardana, Secretary of the Association Dr. Athulasiri Samarakoon, and other prominent members. This concerted effort signifies a commitment to advancing the Sri Lankan higher education system and faculty welfare.