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 SAITM taken away from Neville ...Medical degree payment on subsidized basis ... President's Commission solution for SAITM basis

SAITM taken away from Neville ...
Medical degree payment on subsidized basis ...                      President's Commission solution for SAITM basis

In order to solve the problem which has cropped up regarding the medical faculty of SAITM, a President's Committee has been appointed by the President Maithripala Sirisena and a press release embodying their solutions was released yesterday (29).

Decisions arrived at according to that press release is as follows: Though SAITM would in future
continue to function as an institution awarding medical degrees, the proposal hopes to remove Neville Fernando and his family and to implement standardized degrees at a lesser fee and on an instalment basis as a non-profit making non-governmental organisation.  The new series of proposals is as follows:

1. Abolishing SAITM (hereafter SAITM means its Faculty of Medicine): This shall be done in a manner legally acceptable to the current shareholders, lending institutions and the new entity interested in taking over all operations and management of SAITM on a not-for-profit basis, thus ending the ownership and management structure of SAITM. The profit oriented entity owned and managed by Dr. Neville Fernando and family would thereby cease to exist.

2. By an agreement reached by the above parties, the assets, liabilities, staff and students of SAITM shall be transferred to a non-state, not-for-profit making (that will utilise any excess income over expenditure of the organisation for development or research for scholarships, without distributing among shareholders) degree awarding entity that will comply with the Minimum Standards on Medical Education (to be legislated).

3. 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.

4. 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 institution.

5. 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.

6. Admission of medical students to SAITM has been suspended by the letter issued by the Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education on September 15th 2017. This suspension will continue. Accordingly, all new admissions shall be made to the new entity (as described in 2 above), when only complying with the Minimum Standards on Medical Education and Training (to be legislated). The Government shall co-operate on all endeavours to make available, through financial institutions, subsidized student loan schemes to eligible students from low-income families to meet the cost of tuition and fees.

7. Current shareholders of SAITM shall not participate in the ownership or management of the new entity. The co-operation of Dr. Neville Fernando and family is extremely important in this regard.

8. The Ministry of Health shall 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), upon conclusion of discussions with the SLMC, the Hon. Attorney General and other relevant stakeholders. This task must be mandatorily completed within one month from today.

The chronology of implementing the mentioned solutions shall be, as follows:

i. Ministry of Health to gazette the agreed minimum standards for Medical Education and Training and place before parliament,
ii. SAITM, the selected party and lending institutions to reach agreement on the transfer of assets, liabilities, staff students of SAITM to the proposed not-for-profit entity.
iii. Establish the new entity, under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission.
iv. Abolishing SAITM: transfer assets, liabilities, staff and students of SAITM to the new entity.
v. Establishment of new not-for-profit education degree awarding institute.

It is expected to immediately appoint a committee of high level officials to co-ordinate the implementation of the above measures. This entire process shall be mandatorily completed by December 31st 2017.

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