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Administration of State Universities in Sri Lanka
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Administration of State Universities in Sri Lanka


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  • 1. University Grants Commission The University Grants Commission (UGC) is the apex body of the University System in Sri Lanka which was established on 22nd December 1978 under the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978.
  • 2. The functions of the UGC
    • Planning and coordination of university education,
    • Allocation of funds to Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs),
    • Maintenance of academic standards,
    • Regulation of the administration of HEIs and
    • Regulation of admission of students to HEIs.
  • 3. The Vision The Vision of the UGC is to develop a University System of the highest quality appropriate to national needs and aspirations, in keeping with global trends.
  • 4. The Mission The Mission of the UGC is to promote and sustain through resource allocation, a widely accessible university system that is accountable to the public and dedicated to the highest levels of learning, professional training and research, relevant to the needs of the country, by facilitating, in partnership with other stakeholders of higher education, the diversification and the assurance of quality of academic programmes and the emergence of centers of excellence in teaching and research.
    • The Commission shall consist of a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman and five other members, all of whom shall be appointed by the President.
  • 6. Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees
    • The Commission may, from time to time, appoint such Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees consisting of such number of members and with such powers, duties and functions as may be determined by the Commission, so however that the Chairman of each such Committee shall be a member of the Commission.
  • 7. The responsibility of the Standing Committee
    • The responsibility of each Standing Committee is to report and make recommendations to the UGC on matters pertaining to higher education in respective areas
  • 8. Standing Committees
    • Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine & Animal Sciences
    • Career Guidance and Student Welfare in Universities
    • Management Studies
    • Education & Distance Education
    • Engineering & Architecture
    • Humanities & Social Sciences
    • Indigenous Medicine
    • Information Technology Development
    • Libraries and Information Sciences
    • Medical & Dental Sciences
    • Postgraduate Studies and Research
    • Quality Assurance and Accreditation
    • Sciences
    • Staff Development in Universities
    • Teaching of English
  • 9. Terms of office of the Members of the UGC
    • Every member of the Commission, including the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, shall, unless he vacates office earlier, hold office for a term of five years reckoned from the date of his appointment, and shall, unless removed from office, be eligible for reappointment:
  • 10. CEO
    • The Chairman shall be the chief executive officer and the Accounting Officer of the Commission.
    • The Chairman shall be in control of the day to day administration of the affairs of the Commission
  • 11. The Secretary
    • The Secretary shall be responsible for the custody of the records and the property of the Commission, and shall also be the Assistant Accounting Officer of the Commission
  • 12. Power of the UGC
    • to inquire into or investigate the financial needs of each Higher Educational Institution;
    • to prepare in consultation with the governing authority of each Higher Educational Institution, triennial budgets for its maintenance and development, or for any other general or special purpose;
    • to make recommendations to the Minister as to the nature and amount of grants , out of public funds, which it is desirable or necessary to make to each Higher Educational Institution; 
    • to determine within the overall wage and salary policies of the Government, the quantum of remuneration that should be paid to different grades of the staff of the Higher Educational Institutions and the nature and extent of the other benefits that the staff should receive;  
  • 13. Continued………
    • to determine, in consultation with the governing authority of each Higher Educational Institution, the courses which shall be provided therein, and the degrees, diplomas, and other academic distinctions which shall be awarded;  
    • to determine in consultation with the governing authority of each Higher Educational Institution, the total number of students which shall be admitted annually to each Higher Educational Institution and the apportionment of that number to the different courses of study therein; 
    • to select students for admission to each Higher Educational Institution, in consultation with an Admissions Committee whose composition, powers, duties and functions shall be prescribed by Ordinance;
    • to determine in consultation with the governing authority of each University, the external examinations which it shall conduct for enabling those who are not students of the University or of any recognized institution, to obtain degrees, diplomas, and other academic distinctions of the University; 
  • 14. Continued………..
    • to determine from time to time –
    •    (a) the structure and composition of each Higher Educational Institution established or deemed to be established under this Act or any appropriate instrument; 
    •    (b) the Faculty or Faculties, and the Departments of Study thereof, to be assigned to each such Higher Educational Institution; and 
    •    (c) the subjects or disciplines of study to be provided or taught in each such Higher Educational Institution;  
    • to transfer or re-allocate the holder of any post other than that of teacher, students, equipment and other facilities of any Higher Educational Institution
    • to investigate or to cause investigation into such matters pertaining to the discipline of the students, or to the academic, financial or general administration, of any Higher Educational Institution, and to take remedial measures; and
    • 3.
  • 15. Continued……..
    • to formulate schemes of recruitment and procedures for appointment of the staff of the Higher Educational Institutions, and to determine from time to time, the various grades of staff and the numbers comprising each of such grades;
    • to do all such other acts or things as may be necessary for effectively exercising any of the powers specified by the University act.
  • 16. Power of the Commission to make Ordinances
    • The Commission may make Ordinances in respect of all such matters as it may deem necessary to enable it to effectively exercise, perform and discharge its powers, duties and functions under this Act
  • 17. Matters to make ordinances
    • the terms and conditions of service of the staff of the Commission and of the Higher Educational Institutions;   
    • the schemes of recruitment, and the procedures for appointment, to the staff of the Commission and of the Higher Educational Institutions;  
    • the establishment and maintenance of standards of instruction in Higher Educational Institutions for the grant of degrees, diplomas, and other academic distinctions;  
    • the co-ordination of facilities in and around Higher Educational Institutions;  
    • the nature and scope of extension services which may be provided and organized by Higher Educational Institutions;  
    • the recognition of foreign degrees and diplomas and other academic distinctions; and   
    • any other matter connected with, or incidental to, any of the matters aforesaid.
  • 18. Powers of USAB
    • to conduct investigations into appointments and promotions alleged to have been made to the staff of the Commission and to Higher Educational Institutions in contravention of the schemes of recruitment and the procedures for appointment in force
    • to consider appeals from employees of the Commission or any Higher Educational Institution, who have been dismissed, compulsorily retired, or otherwise punished for misconduct, inefficiency or dereliction of duty, against such dismissal, compulsory retirement or other punishment
    • to consider appeals from employees of the Commission who were employees of the old University or any Higher Educational Institution, relating to compensation payable to employees of the old University
  • 19. Location The University Grants Commission located at No.20, Ward Place, Colombo 07 has a land area of 128.97 perches.
  • 20. Goals
    • Access:  Increase access for all prospective students by enabling more choices in higher education 
    • Equity, Quality and Relevance : Enhance Quality, Equity and Relevance of Academic Programs to Upgrade the Standards in Higher Education inculcating Life- Long Learning
    • Scholarship, Research and Service:  Foster a Culture of Scholarship, Research and Service to Humanity to facilitate a Knowledge Economy
    • Accountability, Financial Viability and Efficient Management:  Ensure Accountability, Sound Performance, Efficient Management and Financial Viability
    • Capacity of the UGC :  Increase the capacity of the UGC Secretariat to  Realize Goals 1-4 Efficiently and Effectively.
  • 21. Objectives
    • the planning and co-ordination of university education so as to
    • conform to national policy;
    • the apportionment to Higher Education Institutions, of the funds
    • voted by parliament in respect of university education, and the
    • control of expenditure by each such Higher Educational Institution;
    • the maintenance of academic standards in Higher Educational
    • Institutions;
    • the regulation of the administration of Higher Educational Institutions;
    • the regulation of the admission of students to each Higher Educational
    • Institution; and
    • the exercise, performance and discharge of such powers, duties
    • and functions as are conferred, imposed on, or assigned to the
    • Commission by or under the University Act.
  • 22. Strengths
    • Government commitment to establish a separate Ministry of Higher Education
    • Conducting high quality degree programmes matching international standards
    • Availability of expertise through the standing committees within the UGC
    • Existence of Universities/HEII covering almost all the provinces
    • The availability of high speed Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity through Lanka Educational Academic Research Network
    • Satisfactory rapport between the Universities and the UGC
    • Availability of a solid backbone of quality academics
    • Potential for expansion especially in the universities outside Colombo
  • 23. Weakness
    • Limited access to university education
    • Rigid rules and regulations
    • Inadequate number of qualified staff in newly established universities
    • Limitations in government grants
    • Inadequate residential facilities
    • Poor interaction amongst the stakeholders
    • Lack of a proactive culture
    • Varied admission schedules for each University – non availability of uniform calendar
    • Lack of research and a university culture
    • Lack of opportunities for life long learning
    • Limited facilities for sports activities and welfare
  • 24. Opportunities
    • Increasing demand for higher education
    • Need for new degree programmes
    • Higher demand for marketable graduates
    • Possibility to introduce high demand conversion courses to enhance employability
    • Diversification of research into areas which can significantly contribute to national growth
    • Demand for enrolment for courses from international students
  • 25. Threats
    • Brain drain of qualified personnel
    • Entertainment of foreign funded projects without a direct impact on national needs and poor sustainability
    • Conflicts based on political, social and ethnic unrest
    • Union activities which may inhibit the smooth functioning of universities
    • The Minister shall be responsible for the general direction of university education and the administration of the University Act
    • To order UGC to investigate any activity or administration of a Higher Educational Institution (HEI) and report to him
    • To direct the Commission to take such remedial action as he may consider necessary with reference to any of the activities or the administration of the Higher Educational Institution concerned.
    • To appoint a competent Authority when & where necessary
    • To close any HEI to restore normal conditions because of strike or lockout or any other cause
  • 27. The Minister may, in consultation with the Commission, by an Order
    • Establish a University /a Campus / a University College / an Institute / an Open University
    • Assign a name & style
    • Specify the location
    • Assign a faculty or faculties to the Universities
    • Specify the department of Study
    • A University Order, Campus Order, Open University Order, University College Order, or Institution for Higher Learning Order may, be amended, varied or revoked by the Minister.
  • 28. Establishment of HEIs
    • Every University Order, Campus Order, Open University Order, University College Order, Institution for Higher Learning Order and Degree Awarding Institute Order shall be published in the Gazette.
    • Each such Order shall come into force on the date specified therein and shall, as soon as possible thereafter, be tabled in Parliament.
  • 29. The Chancellors
    • The President shall nominate the Chancellor of each University.
    • The Chancellor shall be the Head of the University,
    • He / She hold office for a period of five years reckoned from the date of his nomination, and
    • He / She shall, preside at any Convocation of the University.
  • 30. The Vice-Chancellors
    • The Vice-Chancellor of a University shall be appointed for a term of three years by the President, upon the recommendation of the Commission, from a panel of three names recommended by the Council of a University.
  • 31. VCs……..
    • The Vice-Chancellor, being the Chief Executive Officer of the University subject to the provisions of the University Act, is the Chairperson of the governing authority (the Council) and the academic authority (the Senate) of the University and sub-Committees established under the Council and Senate. He is also the Accounting Officer of the University, being responsible not only for the execution of policies and measures approved by the Council but also for providing direction, supervision, and control of the University overall administration and to maintain discipline within the University. 
  • 32. Administration of HEIs
    • Central Administration with the Vice Chancellor as the Chief Executive Officer along with the Registrar and the Bursar functioning, overseeing the general administration and financial management, respectively. The general administration consists of administrative divisions, service divisions & units and other auxiliary divisions/units performing specific functions. In addition there are several Centers/Units that have been established with Council approval to perform specific functions related to administration, academic teaching and training, research and development, service functions and outreach activities.
  • 33. The Deputy Vice-Chancellors
    • The Deputy Vice Chancellor is in-charge of matters relating to students of the University such as admissions, scholarships, sports, recreational and welfare activities, residential facilities, disciplinary matters, student societies, student union activities, student/University interactions with schools/outside Institutions or organizations of Learning and any other activities pertaining to students.
  • 34. DVCs……..
    • The Deputy Vice Chancellor is an ex-officio member of the Council, the Senate and other statutory committees of the University
  • 35. DVCs……
    • The Deputy Vice Chancellor is the chairperson of the Council sub committees such as the Bond Committee [violation of bonds and agreements by both academic and non-academic staff], the Web Development Committee [development of the University Website], the Leave and Awards Committee [granting of all types of Leave to academic and non-academic staff].
  • 36. DVCs……
    • In the absence of the Vice Chancellor, the Deputy Vice Chancellor functions as the Acting Vice Chancellor under the provisions of the Universities Act.
    • He also discharges duties assigned to him by the Vice Chancellor, as and when necessary.
  • 37. The office of the Registrar
    • The Office of the Registrar is the Liaison Office in the central administration of the university system.
    • The Registrar is not only the custodian of the university property, records but also the ex-officio secretary of the Council, the Governing Authority of the university.
    • The general administration of the university comes under the purview of the Registrar. Therefore, the Office of the Registrar liaises with other Departments/Divisions in the university in organizing various meetings of the standing committees which are presided over by the Registrar.
    • As for administrative functions, he makes appointments with various individuals/experts from institutes outside the university and performs other routine functions.