Sri Lanka: State universities minting money by cutting down student intake

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Committee on Public Enterprises attributes decline in undergraduate intake to state universities to attempt at generating interest from underutilised funds in bank accounts.

Parliament watchdog body, the Committee on Public Enterprises (CoPE) has observed that there is a gradual decline in undergraduate intakes to state universities.

The fourth report of the CoPE was tabled yesterday in Parliament, publicising the findings of the investigations on universities and higher education Institutions.

The report digs into the questionable transactions and decisions taken at 17 state universities during the period March 17, 2017 to April 4th, 2018 also highlighted by the Auditor General.

Presenting the COPE report, Chairman of the committee JVP MP Sunil Handunnnetti said that it had, on several occasions, discussed in depth auditors’ observations on the university system. Although the CoPE had issued directives and recommendations from time to time, compliance was not satisfactory.

"Unlike in the past, this report is about all state universities presented together along with the report from the Auditor General. We have observed a gradual decline of undergraduate intakes to universities. For example, 45% of the applicants were admitted to universities in 2013-14. But 38.7% applicants were admitted in 2017-18," he said.

Highlighting the fact that the unutilised funds were found in bank accounts maintained by state universities, the CoPE Chairman said: "On the other hand, considerable amounts of university funds are held in current accounts unnecessarily. There are 794 funds worth USD 31.2 million, maintained by 15 state universities. In order to receive interest, there are investments made in fixed deposits worth USD 77.2 million. These are against the missions of universities. The funds are meant for the use of students and the lecturers. Keeping money in accounts will not help increase the number of student intake."


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