Private medical college
Amidst a demonstration outside its premises on
November 8, the University Grants Commission (UGC) accepted a petition
containing 6000 signatures of medical students opposing the formation
of a private medical college.
UGC Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake said he
handed over the petition to Education Minister Susil Premajayantha
on the same day.
|The nameboard on the building at Piliyandala
“The minister is discussing this matter
with the Health Minister to take the necessary steps, legally and
politically”, he said.
Prof. Samaranayake said the private medical college
which is to be set up in Piliyandala, has no connection with the
UGC and has not asked for UGC permission to conduct a national level
degree course in Sri Lanka.
Advertisements published in newspapers last month
calling for applications for teaching positions at a private medical
college to be established in Sri Lanka had spurred the students
to take action. The Advertisements stated that the Vignan Educational
Foundation International Medical and Technological University was
the establishment behind the campaign. The Vignan Foundation which
is based in Tanzania was to make arrangements to enable Sri Lankan
medical students to complete the final three years of their five
year degree in Tanzania.
Colombo Medical Faculty Students’ Union
president Ruwan Wickramasinghe said his union would wait a few weeks
to see what action the Government would take before continuing with
“The coordinators of the project say the
university is recognized by the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC).
But the SLMC has stated that if a university conducts part of its
course in Sri Lanka and a part abroad, it has to register again
specifically. This university hasn’t done that,” Mr.
Kelaniya Medical Faculty Union vice-president
Saminda Kumara said his union would continue to protest against
the establishment of the college.
“Some think we are jealous of the rich people
who will be mainly benefited by it. But there is nothing like that.
We want knowledge to be the yardstick to choose students for a medical
faculty, not money”, he said.
Colombo Medical Faculty Union secretary Asanka
Srimal said that as the Government has repeatedly stated it cannot
give jobs for medical students after 2008, allowing a private medical
college to be established was questionable.
“This issue has surfaced every year since
2001 and we managed to suppress it each time. Some students even
lost their lives in the process in the last few years. We won’t
let such a college be established this year either,” he said.
Some students opposed the idea for practical reasons.
“The clinical exposure a medical student
receives here is more comprehensive and useful”, said M.G.F.
Nisrina, a final year student at the Colombo Medical Faculty.
“To be a doctor in this country you need
to be familiar with the local conditions. Diseases which medical
students study in Russia or Bangladesh are different to those found
here due to geographical conditions,” she said.
Sankha Guruge, a fourth year student of the Colombo
Medical Faculty said he likes the idea of the setting up of a foreign
university in Sri Lanka. “But my question is that why can’t
a branch of a well known medical university be established rather
than this Tanzanian university. I don’t think the students
will get necessary clinical exposure through this university”,
Most students asked why the college is to be established
through the BOI and not through the Education Ministry. Indications
are that however much medical student unions protest against the
move, the administration at the Sri Lankan branch of the Vingan
International Medical and Technological University is set to start
its course with a batch of fifty students before January 2007.
to be set up lawfully, says MD
Managing Director of
the International Medical and Technological University (IMTU)
Sri Lankan branch, Oshan Herath said the intention to set
up the medical college was to provide Sri Lankan students
who do not get a chance to enter Sri Lankan medical faculties,
with an internationally recognized medical degree.
He said the college is to be set up in keeping with the
laws of this country and there would be no opportunity for
any individual to challenge it in a court of law.
“We have devised the courses according to guidelines
of the World Federation of Medical Education”, he said
and invited medical students to visit the newly built premises
and then decide whether they have a case to protest against
“Prof. Carlo Fonseka has accepted his post as the
honorary Academic Director of the College. He opposed the
private medical college in Ragama in 1982 but has accepted
a post in this one because, as he said, he found no reason
to go against the move this time”, Mr. Herath said.