SAITM Students Write to President:Request Meeting to discuss issues

Students of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) have written to President Maithripala Sirisena requesting for a meeting with him.

The SAITM Students’ Action Committee stated that the committee appointed by the President to look into the SAITM issue has published a report which has received positive feedback from many.

“The committee has allowed private medical education to continue and this is a stance that is accepted by many,” President of the Committee, Shanaka de Seram said.

He added that due to the continuous attempts to shut down the institution, the period of study of SAITM students has increased.

“We had to wait nine years for clinical training and this is a serious injustice. Thus, we believe that the recommendations by the committee must be implemented soon and further delays would be damaging. We will be affected by all the recommendations of the commission and thus we would also like to comment on the report. I think it’s important that we are allowed to explain our side of the story to you,” he said.

The Presidential Committee appointed to resolve SAITM issues stated the following on 29 October:

“The Committee proposes abolishing the Medical Faculty of the SAITM in a legally acceptable manner, thus halting the ownership maintained by Dr. Neville Fernando and his family. Accordingly, by an agreement reached by the new entity interested in taking over operations of the medical faculty of the SAITM and Dr. Fernando, the assets, the liabilities, staff and students of the SAITM shall be transferred to a non-State, non-profit making degree awarding entity that will comply with the Minimum Standards of Medical Education and Training, which is pending legislation.

The Minimum Standards of Medical Education and Training would have to be gazetted and properly legalized within one month.

The new entity, established under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission, will utilize any excess income, over expenditure of the organization, for development, research or scholarships without, distributing it among shareholders.

In order to establish the new entity, external parties are to be consulted and detailed discussions with interested parties will commence in the near future. The new entity will continue the medical education of the students, currently enrolled at the faculty, as well. Arrangements are expected to be made for former students, who have completed their degree course, awaiting clinical training, to undergo clinical training at recommended government hospitals. Issues in respect of former students should be addressed on the advice of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, based on the determination of the Supreme Court case filed on the same. The suspension of new student admissions will continue and will only be lifted once the new entity is established.

The government shall cooperate on all endeavours to make available, through financial institutions, subsidized student loan schemes to enable students from low-income families to meet the cost of tuition and fees. Current shareholders of the SAITM will not be allowed to participate in the ownership or management of the new entity.”

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