Opposition mounts against Govt’s SAITM solutions IUSF to support parents’ fast unto death

Totally rejecting the Governmental solutions, put forward with regard to the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), the Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF) yesterday (30) announced that they would continue with their struggle to have the operations of the SAITM abolished.

The Presidential Committee appointed to look into the issues pertaining to the SAITM, on 29 October recommended the abolition of the medical faculty of the SAITM and proposed to bring the institution under the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission as a non-profit entity with a new ownership and management.

Explaining that theirs was a fight for free education and free healthcare, the IUSF also declared their support to the fast unto death organized by the parents of the students in State medical faculties, which is scheduled to commence on 6 November.

The IUSF said that the only solutions that would be acceptable to them was the total abolition of its operations as the medical faculty of the SAITM, afterwards vesting it completely with the public by nationalizing it, and subsequently enrolling and recruiting students free of charge.

Convener of the IUSF, Mangala Maddumage pointed out that what the Government had proposed was to change the name of the SAITM owing to the fact that internationally (in Britain, Australia and the Maldives, amongst others), the name of the SAITM had not been accepted. A private entity that is going to take up anything on a not for profit basis is not a reality, he noted.

“We are opposed to changing the ownership and the management of the SAITM and vesting it with another institution or company. The Government wants to sell education and degrees for money. One recommendation made by the said Committee is to provide students with loan facilities. This means that they envision monies being charged and the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery being sold. It may be for Rs 10 million instead of the Rs 12 million it is now at the SAITM. What is the solution in this? The majority cannot afford such. The solution is to expand the State medical faculties and increase the intake.

The Government’s solution is a fake one which seeks to pull wool over the eyes of the people,” he added.

The Government is trying to fool the country through its proposals regarding the medical faculty of the SAITM, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (30) announced.

Responding to the proposed Governmental moves, the JVP explained that only the ownership, the management and the name of the SAITM’s medical faculty would change under the said recommendations. When looking at the recommendations, it is crystal clear that the Government has not given up on their intention of selling the medical degree, issuing a press statement, the JVP stressed.

The JVP asserted, “The new management will also sell the degree just like the previous management did.”

What the authorities should do is follow the proposals submitted by the Medical Faculty Deans of State Universities to solve the SAITM problem, the JVP added.

The Federation of Faculty of Medicine Teachers Association and the Association of Medical Faculty Lecturers (AMFL) yesterday (30) said that they did not accept the Government’s solution to the SAITM issue.

Addressing the media in Colombo yesterday (30), the Convener of the AMFL, medical specialist Dr. Manuj Weerasinghe said that the Government’s solution is neither practical nor plausible.

“They say that they are going to abolish the SAITM and establish a non-profit institution instead. But this is not a practical solution, because they did not clarify on the specifics,” he said. He queried as to “What are they going to do with the current students and the ones that already got their qualifications through the SAITM? It will take at least seven years to establish an institution. How will the Government manage this?”

The AMFL said that the Government is merely attempting to rename the SAITM.

Elsewhere, the management of the SAITM expressed hope that the Government’s proposals would provide a solution to the disparaged parties involved in the matter.

Issuing a press release yesterday (30), the SAITM management claimed that the proposals from the Presidential Committee inquiring into the matter, needed to be discussed at length with all the stakeholders in order to ensure that justice is served.

Moving forward, the release further added, “We [the SAITM] hope that the SAITM graduates will be given provisional registration, subject to Court proceedings and the current students’ education will continue without any disruption to their studies.”

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