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No foreseeable settlement to OUSL Satyagraha

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Student activists of the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) have been given no solutions although they have been holding a Satyagraha in protest of many issues, including high tuition fees for over 70 days.

While student unions have been banned at the university, activists have banded together to protest against the fees, banning of student unions and the oppression of students. According to student activist Amila Sandaruwan, the application fee, which was Rs.300, has been increased to Rs.1,500. Further, all fees, including registration fees and semester fees, amounted to 18,400 (per year) in 2013. This was increased to 20,500 in 2014 and the current fees will amount to 60,000, which is a 40 percent increase since last year.

“We are in a battle against the university authorities and the Ministry,” Amila Sandaruwan said. He added that the activists are protesting against the University for depriving students of facilities. He explained that while OUSL has a sports ground, students cannot use the grounds without written permission from the Vice Chancellor. Further, most benches and study areas in the university premises were demolished on the promise that students can use lecture halls to study. However, Amila Sandaruwan told The Nation that the lecture halls can only be used with permission from the faculty deans. “Students are required to inform the faculty about the number of students and time they will be spending in the lecture hall,” Amila Sandaruwan said.

The OUSL student activists are protesting against the government for the increase in tuition fees, which, according to Amila Sandaruwan, was caused by the government’s refusal to allocate a sufficient amount for the University. “When we questioned university authorities about the increase in fees, they informed us that the government is only responsible for paying the staff salaries and the university is expected to find the cash for university expenses,” Amila Sandaruwan said.

He also commented that the Satyagraha will continue until a solution is provided by the relevant authorities, and the student activists will continue to hold protest marches and discussions with workers’ unions.

The Nation made multiple attempts to contact the OUSL Vice Chancellor Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara and the Higher Education Minister, Kabir Hashim, but they were unreachable.

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