(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Presidential Committee appointed to resolve issues related to the South Asia Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) has recommended abolishing the SAITM Medical Faculty and establishing a not-for-profit Institute under the supervision of the Higher Education Ministry for its operations and management.
The Government Information Department in a press statement yesterday, made known to the public the eight-point recommendations of the Committee headed by Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva on SAITM.
The Committee’s proposals are aimed at a permanent solution to the long-drawn issue of the SAITM and its medical degree. The Committee, which consulted all stakeholder groups including the Deans of Medical Faculties of all State Universities, submitted the report to the President in September.
With the abolition of SAITM, the profit oriented entity owned and managed by Dr. Neville Fernando and family will cease to exist.
“Abolishing SAITM shall be done in a manner legally acceptable to the current shareholders, lending institutions and the new entity interested in,” the Committee has proposed.
The Committee has specifically stated that the current shareholders of SAITM shall not participate in the ownership or management of the new entity.
“The cooperation of Dr. Neville Fernando and family is extremely important in this regard,” the statement stressed.
It requested all parties to cooperate to ensure the implementation of the proposed solutions and provide an opportunity to students to return for education.
According to the proposals, the assets, liabilities, staff and students of SAITM shall be transferred to a non-state, not-for-profit making degree awarding entity that will comply with the minimum standards on Medical Education and Training. The new entity to be legislated will utilize any excess income over expenditure of the organization for development or research or scholarships, without distributing among shareholders.
“The Government has consulted several already established non-state, not-for-profit entities with the objective of establishing the proposed not-for-profit entity for this purpose. Detailed discussions in this regard with interested parties shall start very soon,” the statement added.
“The new entity shall recognise all students currently enrolled at SAITM, who possess the required entry qualifications. Opportunity will be afforded to these students to continue medical education in the proposed new institution,” it added.
“Issues in respect of former students who have completed their degree course at SAITM 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. Arrangements shall be made for the said students who have completed the degree at SAITM to undergo clinical training at recommended government hospitals” the Committee proposed.
However, the suspension on admission of medical students to SAITM by the letter issued by the Higher Education Ministry Secretary on September 15 will continue. All new admissions shall be made to the new entity, which will comply with the minimum standards on Medical Education and training.
The Health Ministry will gazette and place before Parliament the agreed minimum standards for Medical Education and training based on the Draft submitted by the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC). “This task must be mandatorily completed within one month from today,” the Committee stated.
The Government is to immediately appoint a Committee of high level officials to coordinate the implementation of the above measures.
“This entire process shall be mandatorily completed by December 31, 2017,” the Committee recommended.