Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena has submitted a proposal to take over the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), a leading non-state degree awarding institute approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Universities Act, under the government, it is learnt.
SLIIT was established in order to raise funds for the Mahapola scholarships provided by the Ministry of Higher Education. Minister Gunawardena had earlier lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) seeking an investigation into the fraud alleged to have taken place during the transfer of the institute.
A Presidential Commission had been appointed to probe the transfer of SLIITand the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had also taken up the matter in parliament recently.
"It had been revealed that a fraud had taken place during the transfer of SLIIT," a COPE member said, adding that an adjournment debate will be held in Parliament tomorrow (22) on the second report presented by the Committee.
#savesliit - Who is eyeing the profits?
Meanwhile, a social media campaign has been initiated calling on the public to help save the private educational institute.
The campaign has been launched by former SLIIT alumni across the world and current students and their parents under the theme '#savesliit'.
Several posts widely circulated on social media are found below.
SLIIT was established in 1999 through an investment loan from the Mahapola Higher Education Scholarship Trust Fund. SLIIT has been legally recognised as a non-governmental institution following an audit by the Auditor General's Department in 2017 after repaying all loans.
However, the second report of the Committee on Public Enterprises on the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology recommended that SLIIT be taken over by a Ministry after considering the contents of other Cabinet Memoranda pertaining to the institution.
The #savesliit campaign notes that this is an attempt by the government to claim profits earned by SLIIT under the guise of awarding degrees at much lower rates to prospective students.
Opponents of the proposed government take over of SLIIT claim that the Institute, which already has the largest share of private higher education students in Sri Lanka as well as a substantial number of international students, will soon end up as another loss-making institution that would only lead to enrich certain politicians.