June 20, Colombo: Minister of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakse states that the medical faculty of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) will be abolished after the integration of its medical students into Kotelawala Defense University (KDU) and amendments will be brought to this effect.
Joining the debate on the second reading of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (Special Provisions) Bill in parliament today, the Minister said a "Quality Assurance and Accreditation" bill would be brought to monitor the activities of the private universities from the opening of the university to the granting of degrees.
Expressing his views, Minister Rajapakshe said the state university education in the country has highest standards in Asia.
Noting that although the private universities functioned for other degrees in the country, there was an issue about the Faculty of Medicine of the SAITM and the pointed out that the issue did not rise until about three years after the medical faculty in SAITM was established in 2012.
"Then, the citizens and the student community protested. Because of this, the university education was crippled and universities became inactive. These problems affect not only higher education but also ordinary education," he said.
The Minister pointed out that although there are private degree granting institutions in the country, there is no mechanism set up to monitor them.
Explaining the purpose of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (Special Provisions) Bill, the Minister said the bill would apply only to the medical students admitted to the SAITM Medical Faculty from 2009 to 2017 and all SAITM Medical students will not be integrated in to KDU. Only the students who have met the basic qualifications for admission to medical faculties in government universities will be integrated into the KDU.
Also, the KDU is not bound to admit a student in to the same year in its program as the student was in SAITM course and they will be integrated into a particular year according to the level of their education and clinical training.
Furthermore, the SAITM students who completed the degree course does not automatically earn a degree from KDU. Steps will be taken to evaluate the students who completed the program at SAITM and they will be given a broad clinical training before granting a degree from KDU, the Minister explained.
"Some people have suspicions that the SAITM will continue to function even after the bill is passed. After the students are integrated to the KDU, SATM will be abolished," the Minister of Higher Education said. He added that the necessary amendments will be made.
The General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (Special Provisions) Bill presented to the parliament by Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe on June 8th passed in the parliament today (20) without going for a vote. The bill aims to absorb 980 SAITM students to the KDU.
The Higher Education Minister said the bill will solve the burning problem and would not make room for such a problem again.