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Batticaloa University handed over to founder Dr. Hizbullah

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The Government officially handed over the Batticaloa University to its founder, former Governor Dr. M.L.A.M. Hizbullah on Saturday.

Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman, on behalf of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, officially returned the University to Dr. Hizbullah during a ceremony at the University premises.

The University, in Poonani, Batticaloa, was under the control of the Government and the military for almost four years. It

An IT lab at the University.

An IT lab at the University.

was taken over by the Government in 2020 in the wake of the unrest caused by the extremists in the Eastern Province following the 2019 Easter Attacks, and later became a treatment centre for Covid-19 patients.

Dr. Hizbullah who was overcome with emotion during the handover ceremony said the university was returned to him on an order by President Wickremesinghe and this was done as it has been established without doubt that the issues raised and allegations levelled against the University and himself were baseless and false.

“We had planned to open this university in 2019. But with the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday in 2019, it was taken over by the Military. Later it became a quarantine centre during the Covid pandemic. A request was made to President Wickremesinghe to give us this university again. Accordingly, after several rounds of negotiations, the President decided to return the university to us,” he said.

“However, even though Batticaloa is a Muslim-majority area, this university is not restricted to the Muslim community, and it is a higher education institution that caters to students from all races and religions. We have established this University at a key location which can easily be accessed not only by people from the East, but also the North, Central, Uva and North Central Provinces as well.”

Dr. Hizbullah said the University will begin operations from January 2024 and at the inception will introduce several courses, including Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security, two special requests by the President. In addition, at the initial stage, courses will be offered in IT, Agri Technology, Tourism and Hospitality Management, etc., while giving equal focus to both academic and practical aspects.

Eastern Province Governor Thondaman addressing the gathering said the University will be a catalyst for socio-economic development in the Province.

“The present Government under President Ranil Wickremesinghe is making efforts to enhance the flexibility in learning pathways across education systems, connecting vocational education and training and higher education by taking into consideration the demands of the labour market.

The focus is on demand-driven technical and vocational education and training, higher education, entrepreneurship, and business training programmes tied to specialized sectors.

The Batticaloa University will be operated in line with this thinking,” he added.

The Chairman of the University Hiraz Hizbullah meanwhile said the university will work jointly with the Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC) and in the initial stage will follow the curricula and degree and other courses offered by the SLTC.

He said there are facilities for about 10,000 students and the courses will be conducted according to the latest technology and knowhow.

The university will have Faculties in Engineering, IT, Architecture and Surveying, Law, Tourism and Business Management, Agricultural Technology and AI. A Medical Faculty too is in the pipeline.

The University has three lecture halls that can accommodate 200 students each, 14 lecture halls that can accommodate 80 students each, eight laboratories with modern facilities, 150 rooms that can accommodate academic and non-academic staff, and residential facilities for 1,000 students.

Officials from the Department of Government Information, Government officials from the area, Professors and Lecturers from the SLTC and Mangala Senarath, former Competent Authority of National Paper Company, a key figure behind efforts to return the university back to its founder, were present among others.

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