Thursday, 21 June 2018 06:52

Solution to SAITM issue KDU (SP) Bill passed

The General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) (Special Provision) Bill, which hopes to bring to an end the years long crisis, which made the entire university system come to a standstill as the result of the controversy surrounding the Medical Faculty of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), was passed along with Amendments, sans a vote, yesterday (20).

According to the Bill, the students registered with the SAITM between 15 September, 2009 and 15 May, 2017 will be absorbed to the KDU to follow the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme if they have obtained the basic qualifications.

During the debate on the Bill, Minister of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs, President’s Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, yesterday accepted that like all the previous Governments, the current Government also does not have a principle on establishing and regulating private universities in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Rajapakshe said that there are two opinions among intellectuals regarding the establishing of private universities in the country.

“One of them is that we should establish private universities in the country but their quality must be 100 percent assured and there should be a proper monitoring process. The second opinion is that private universities can exist but they must be non-profit oriented institutions. However, as the Government we still have not taken a decision on how private university education should be established in Sri Lanka,” he added.

Therefore, the Government hopes to initiate a discussion at a Parliamentary Oversight Committee to decide on a State policy on private education suitable to the country, the Minister added.

Furthermore, Dr. Rajapakshe noted that agencies that send students abroad for medical education have mushroomed in the recent years and they receive a commission of at least Rs 500,000 for each student they send to medical colleges in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

“This commission increases to Rs 1 million if the student goes to Europe to study medicine. I know very well that these agencies kept pumping money to some of the student protests and unrests against the SAITM Medical Faculty as they benefitted from it,” he alleged.

Participating in the debate, after Dr. Rajapakshe, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa stressed that Chairman of the SAITM Dr. Neville Fernando is similar to primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries Limited Owner Arjun Aloysius.

“We assume that Dr. Fernando was aware of the law when he established this medical faculty. Yet, he initiated it without considering the law. This is what Aloysius did. He should be punished according to the law for misleading innocent students who enrolled with the SAITM medical faculty.”

He also demanded that the Government table the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A/L) results, of the students enrolled at the SAITM medical faculty, in the Parliament.  

“There are some students at the SAITM Medical Faculty with Z-scores less than 0.058. There are many students with less than 1 in terms of the Z-score. Also, some students do not have minimum qualifications to enrol in the MBBS degree at the SAITM as stipulated by the Sri Lanka Medical Council. We want to know on what basis the Government is going to absorb them to the KDU,” he said.

The Government had added a special clause at the third reading stage of the Bill, prior to passing it into law, to revoke the degree awarding status of the SAITM Medical Faculty and thereby to have it abolished.

The Bill mentions that the ‘basic qualifications’ for the enrolment stand as three ‘S’ Passes for Chemistry, Physics and Biology at the GCE A/L or an equivalent foreign qualification including equivalent qualifications of students who have been offered the subjects of Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.

The absorbed students will be awarded the MBBS Degree from the KDU if they successfully complete the study programme. All of them will be given a mandatory clinical training, including those who had already passed out from the SAITM, the Bill says.
(Ceylon Today)

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