Rogue Academics in Sri Lanka: Time to Clean the South Eastern Uni

Shocking Revelations of fraudulences in professorship applications at South Eastern University of Sri Lanka; Special Reference to A. Rameez (Vice-Chancellor, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka)

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Main entrance of the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, one of the most beautiful universities which is now, unfortunately, suffering from the mismanagement and academic malpractices. [Photo credit: South Eastern University of Sri Lanka]

by a Special Correspondent

Sri Lanka Guardian has received a copy of A. Rameez’s (Vice-Chancellor, SEUSL) professorship application (Dated and signed on 04th September 2019). A. Rameez is serving as a professor in Sociology at South Eastern University of Sri Lanka since 05th September 2019.

The readers might be aware that Sri Lanka Guardian published two articles in November 2022 (http://slguardian.org/inside-story-rogue-academics-in-sri-lanka, and http://slguardian.org/inside-story-rogue-academics-in-sri-lanka-part-2) regarding major research fraudulence committed by A. Rameez. Both articles made shocking revelations about Poor Academic Ethics & Integrity by A. Rameez and the Teacher’s Association of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (TASEU) urged the current Vice-Chancellor A. Rameez to step down following the allegations made in Sri Lanka Guardian. But A. Rameez is still holding on to the VC’s chair despite his Academic Integrity being in the graves.

While there is a huge argument regarding A. Rameez still being the Vice Chancellor at SEUSL, the new shocking evidence in his professorship application brings serious questions on his eligibility to be a professor at the institute and to continue to serve as an academic staff member.

A thorough and detailed investigation of his professorship application was carried out. This revealed evidence, showing that a significant number of research publications with various types of research fraudulence authored by A. Rameez have been included in his claim for the professorship.

A critical analysis of the findings from his professorship application is summarized below;

  1.  “Ageing and Health Seeking Behaviour: A Medical Sociological Approach to Nintavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka”. Professor A. Rameez, being the primary and corresponding author has published this abstract in the South Eastern University Arts Research Session 2015 (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/1532). This abstract has been written by A. Rameez and his co-authors by stealing nearly 80% of an abstract of another published journal article related to actual research conducted in Nigeria. (The original article has been published in Vol. 7, No. 1 (2014), pp. 201-210 of International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities (ISSN 2248-9010 (Online), ISSN 2250-0715 (Print)). The abstract “Ageing and Health Seeking Behaviour: A Medical Sociological Approach to Nintavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka” co-authored by Rameez .A, Riswan.M and Lumna.N (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/1532) was published in the South Eastern University Arts Research Session 2015.
  1. A. Rameez has claimed points for the above fraudulent abstract as Rameez, A. (2015). Aging and Health Seeking Behaviour: Medical Sociological Approach to Ninthavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka, Proceedings of Fourth International Conference on Emerging Trends in Multidisciplinary Research and Practice, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Oluvil, ,(22nd December, 2015)”.

He has claimed points for this plagiarized abstract as if it was a work of his individual authorship and presentation while concealing the contribution of the other co-authors in his application to become a professor. The sole purpose of this act of malice is to claim the complete marks possible for this publication in his professorship application. This act raises question whether Riswan. M and Lumna. N were really involved in the above mentioned plagiarism or it was Rameez.A alone!

  1. “Rameez, A. (2019). Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 319-330, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.”

This article has been published in a print only journal by A. Rameez in 2019 and he has committed plagiarism by copying the genuine work of Vincent Hazleton and William Kennan (Social capital: reconceptualizing the bottom line; Corporate Communications: An International Journal Volume 5 . Number 2 . 2000. pp. 81-86)

 “Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 319-330, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.” is a 100% self-plagiarism by A. Rameez. He had already published the same article in year 2016 in KALAM -International Research Journal, Faculty of Arts and Culture, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Volume X Issue 1, 2016. The print version of Kalam Journal issue is still carrying the same article from page numbers 01-13.

  1. A. Rameez has published “Rameez, A. (2019). Chronic Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka: Factors and Impacts, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 331-337, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.”. More than 70% of this article has been copied from “Sameera Senanayake, Chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka: a glimpse into lives of the affected, Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka 2018, 24 (2) DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/jccpsl.v24i2.8158”.

A.Rameez has directly translated the contents of “Sameera Senanayake, Chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka: a glimpse into lives of the affected, Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka 2018, 24 (2) DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/jccpsl.v24i2.8158” from English to Tamil and he has published this as his own scientific work.

  1. A. Rameez has published “Rameez, A. (2019). A Sociological Analysis on Current Economic Dynamics in Postwar Eastern Sri Lanka, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.07(01): 349-356, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.”

More than 70% of this article has been stolen from the 4th chapter of a book, Shadows of Conflict in Northern & Eastern Sri Lanka: Challenges & Way Forward written by Anna O’Donnell, Mohamed Ghani Razaak, Markus Kostner, Jeeva Perumpillai-Essex in 2018. The 4th chapter of this book is “Current Economic Dynamics in Postwar Sri Lanka”. A. Rameez has filtered the contents relevant to the Eastern Province carefully from this book chapter and composed his article. But the particular book chapter describes the economy of Northern and Eastern Provinces. Several other errors that may amount to data fabrication have also been observed in the version by A. Rameez.

  1. A. Rameez has completed his M.Phil studies at University of Peradeniya to attain his promotion and confirmation. The title of the thesis is “The role of social capital in Disaster Management: A study of a Tsunami affected coastal village in Eastern Sri Lanka”. A preliminary check-up of his thesis has revealed word to word plagiarism from page number 32 to 39 appearing as continuous flow of text throughout pages, having been stolen from another journal article by V. Hazleton and W. Kennan.  

A.Rameez has several other articles listed in his professorship application to have been published in print-only Journals from Tamil Nadu, India – all by the same publishing company, whose official address is the same as the residential address of one Dr. M. Sadik Batcha, an associate professor of Tamil Studies at Jamal Mohamed College based in Tamil Nadu, India (https://www.jmc.edu/include/department/tamil/staff/profile/Dr.SADIK-10-08-2021.pdf). The Journal of Classical Thamizh and Modern Thamizh published by Raja Publishers from Tamil Nadu, India has published 08 articles authored by A. Rameez during the period of 2018 & 2019. One of the main editorial board members of the Modern Thamizh Research journals is a chair professor of Tamil Studies at the same faculty at SEUSL where A. Rameez is also an academic member. Among these 08 publications, 03 of them had major research fraudulences as described above. The rest of the publications in these journals by A. Rameez has revealed poor standard of academic publications and evidence of fraudulency.

  1. Rameez, A. (2019). Islamophobia and Increasing Trend of Extremism in Muslim Countries, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 464- 471, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India
  2. Rameez, A. (2019). Economic Initiatives in Post War Sri Lanka: A Perspective of Northern and Eastern Province, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(02): 186-193, May-June 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
  3. Rameez, A. (2019). Conflict Theory of Gumblowics and Sri Lankan Society, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.07(02): 357-366, May-June 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
  4. Rameez, A. (2019). Social Media and Ethnic Violence: A Sociological Perspective of Ampara and Digana Riots, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.07(01): 357-366, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
  5. Rameez, A. (2019). Cultural Dimension of Eastern Muslims of Sri Lanka: A Sociological Perspective, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.06(04): 276-294, October, Decemebr 2018, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.

Sri Lanka Guardian still wonders about the review processes followed by these local and international journals, where A. Rameez was able to publish his fraudulent articles. In an era with sophisticated tools to identify plagiarism, the above-mentioned journals have missed smelling this significant fraudulence. Do these journals have the policy to retract all publications from a fraudulent author and declare the action of retraction in public?! This may help to regulate the publication mafia and to establish standards in academic publishing in these peripheries of Sri Lankan academia.

Quite interestingly, A. Rameez has also listed the publications below in his professorship application:

  • “Rameez, A. (2018). Sociology of Sri Lankan Muslims: Dealing with different dimensions of Muslim Society, Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 13(07): 1782-1793 (Indexed in Scopus)”. This publication has been listed among one of the five outstanding research papers/ publications in the professorship application by A. Rameez.
  • “Rameez, A. (2019). Second Minority in Sri Lanka: Genesis and Current Crisis, International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences Vol. 6(4): 53-58 (Indexed in Emerging Sources of Citation Index (Clarivate Analytics)).”

One may wonder what’s the relevance between the journal names and the titles of the published articles. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences is a publication from Medwell Publications. Sources such as Beall’s List have named this publisher as a Predatory publisher! Similarly, the International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences is listed as a Predatory publisher in Beall’s List. Further analysis is required to confirm the claims of indexing and the truth behind these journal metrics having been claimed.

A professorship application with a composition of fraudulent and predatory publications has been reviewed and evaluated at various levels by many salaried academics in the Sri Lankan state university system. Though this application passed all the checkpoints, many questions now originate regarding the Review and Evaluation processes. Another interesting fact in the application noted was that, Professor M.M.M. Najim serving as the Vice Chancellor of SEUSL in 2019 has recommended the Application and the List of Publications, while the Curriculum Vitae attached by A. Rameez with the professorship application mentions Prof. M.M.M. Najim as one of his Non-Related Referees.

An academic, who has been clever enough to escape various steps of scrutiny is the current vice chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. The damage to the academic standard which can be caused by this vice chancellor can become irreparable at any cost and can affect the quality of undergraduate and postgraduate education. The Senate and Council of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka have a responsibility in these matters. Allowing these substandard applications for further processing and approval is drastic damage to the overall academic standard in the whole university system in Sri Lanka. The focus on increasing the number of professors should be aimed out on bringing about well-qualified professors at this institute.  It is a million-dollar question from Sri Lanka Guardian, how did A. Rameez escape all the steps in the evaluation of becoming a professor? Or else, was it a well-orchestrated coercion by an academic underworld to make this man of near zero quality and no integrity a professor in order to make him stand out as a justifiable candidate for the contest for the position of vice chancellor in the very following year?!

Who is responsible to repair these damages already done?! The Registrar or the Senate or the Council of the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka have the authority to carry out complete and thorough investigations on A. Rameez and to revoke the professorship gained through fraudulent publications and false claims. A Vice Chancellor, who should be an exemplary academic member at various calibres, cannot be a role model for fraudulency.

The consequences of the negligence of signalling by academic members of the institution of systematic fraudulence are apparent now. Research fraud is a Professor and Vice-Chancellor. He is being paid many millions of Rupees from the Taxpayers’ money per annum. Imagine the number of millions he can earn through these fraudulent till his retirement! Isn’t A. Rameez accountable for the taxpayers’ money?! A bankrupt country can only become even more bankrupt by producing academically bankrupt outputs by academically and ethically bankrupt academics.

Sri Lanka Guardian is curious to raise these questions at His Excellency the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Hon. Minister of Education and the respected Chairman of the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka:

  1. Is A. Rameez still eligible to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor?
  2. Is A. Rameez still eligible to serve as a professor?
  3. Is A. Rameez still eligible to hold a teaching and academic supervisory position at a government university?

Sri Lanka Guardian has received further evidence regarding another professorship application from the same institution. An academic in the field of Information and Communication Technology has published more than 20 indexed publications in a particular year right before he applies for the professorship. The Scopus ID of the particular academic doesn’t show any of those publications to have been listed as indexed publications under his name! It was further brought to the notice of Sri Lanka Guardian that, the promotion interview of this particular applicant was postponed at the last moment due to the withdrawal of the evaluators, who were supposed to have functioned as the field-related experts, just a few days before the evaluation interview! Notably, this candidate has not completed his Doctoral degree and the provision for this in UGC circulars is being exploited by a few corrupted academics to become professors. Currently, there are a number of professors in this institution who have attained professorships with their Master’s Degrees alone by publishing more than 20 (indexed?) research papers in a year just before they apply for professorship! A prominent example of this nature of professorship can be seen at the Department of Management & Information Technology at SEUSL. This academic member has published more than 20 (? Indexed) publications in a year before his application to become a professor. These few of the corrupted academic individuals at SEUSL can be used as samples for case studies to show; how they are academically corrupted, how they have mishandled the publication ethics, how they have exploited the UGC circulars and how they have mishandled the public fund. Imagine the volume of public funds mishandled by these academics from this institution if there are 11 such professors in this category, for example!

The South Eastern University of Sri Lanka is a national asset. It is run with Taxpayers’ money. The country is currently in an economic downfall. Production of High-Quality Graduates is necessary for the recovery of this country. From a spoiled Chief Executive Officer and from a few corrupted fake professors and unqualified academics, the production of High-Quality Graduates will be a Nightmare! Imagine the damage this does to the perceived quality of the random Sri Lankan graduate in any field of study that’s also available at SEUSL! Imagine the challenges that are to be faced by the graduates of the rest of the universities while abroad when the overall assessment of the quality of Sri Lankan graduates are negatively affected by the products of the academic underworld made of the underqualified professors of SEUSL! Imagine the unfair disadvantage that the poor quality products graduated by the academic underworld comprising the likes of A. Rameez of SEUSL will be putting the graduates of the rest of the Sri Lankan university system, who go through scrutiny and rigour, at when competing in the job market in Sri Lanka, especially in the Sri Lankan public sector, especially in academia! According to the assessment schemes for recruitment to university academic positions, a first-class is a first-class regardless of whether it was conferred by ordinary academics of Sri Lanka or by the academic underworld at SEUSL – you are ahead with 5% additional marks in comparison to a graduate with a second-class-upper-honours.

A rapid rectification with state intervention is the need of the hour within this institution to preserve the Academic Standards of all the graduates being produced from the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. The autonomy provided to universities has been exploited at the best in this institution by the current and previous vice-chancellors in producing substandard professors. If no immediate intervention is done to regulate this Higher Education Authority by the Government of Sri Lanka, it will make the Billions of money allocated for the functioning of SEUSL meaningless and it may be equivalent to throwing all of that money into the river flowing adjacent to this university.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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