Private medical college opposed
No sale of free education: Remember what happened with Ragama Faculty, says students’ action committee
By Apsara Kapukotuwa
Steps to establish an Indian affiliated private medical college in Sri Lanka have drawn protests from the local university medical students, though the authorities have promised to monitor its functioning and the company concerned has provided explanations.

The proposed medical college named "Vinayaka Mission's Oasis Medical College, Colombo," is affiliated to the Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation said to be having university status located in Salem, South India. The Oasis Hospital in Colombo and the Institute of Technological Studies are the key local institutes which will play a role in the establishment of the college.

A Sri Lanka Medical Council spokesman told The Sunday Times that representatives from the Indian university and Oasis Hospital have explained in detail the set-up of the proposed medical college.

"We can only see whether the candidates are qualified once we see what kind of degree is awarded. The proposal for its part appears to be above board. Anyone can establish a medical college after obtaining government and BOI approval. We did assure the parties concerned that we will monitor them and point out any defects once the courses commence," Sri Lanka Medical Council Deputy Registrar Dr. N.J. Nonis said.

Oasis Hospital General Manager Samantha Liyanawaduge said the project is still in its initial stages and as such, they had only advertised for staff for the proposed medical faculty and no student intakes have yet taken place. The faculty staff are to be those who would be recognised by the Sri Lanka Medical Council and the Indian Medical Council.

"We have applied to the SLMC, Government and BOI for approval. The Indian university would award the degree. The candidates would be chosen from those who have received adequate pass marks from the local or London A/L's and would be graded on a merit basis from the total number of applicants," Mr. Liyanawaduge said.

The protests were in response to an advertisement in a national newspaper asking for staff for the medical faculty of this college, which was construed by the local medical faculty students action committee to mean that a private medical college has commenced operations.

"They will admit students from any stream and this would basically mean that anyone who has two million rupees can easily become a doctor. We have opposed the idea of establishing private medical colleges from the outset. As a matter of policy we do not approve of the sale of free education. Remember what happened with what is now the 'Ragama Medical Faculty'? " said Anupa Herath, the media spokesman of the action committee. The action committee has written to the President stating its objections and asking her to prevent the medical college from being established.

If she fails to do so, it threatens to conduct a demonstration campaign to oppose the project as it will under no circumstances allow education to be privatised.

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