SAITM issue resolved

The government has resolved the issue surrounding the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) in Malabe.

The government has proposed the setting up of two institutes, one of which will absorb all SAITM students. The other will consider new enrolments for a fully-fledged MBBS degree.

The nine member committee chaired by National Policies and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva, tasked with finding a pragmatic solution to the abolition of SAITM, have cited that the legal process requires the creation of two new institutions.

A new not-for-profit ‘sunset’ institute will the absorb all students who were enrolled in SAITM medical degree programme, as well as is assets and liabilities.This institute will cease all operations once the last current batch of students graduate from this institute and no new students will be enrolled.

Thereafter, a new not-for-profit ‘sunrise’ institute will start enrolling students from 2019 onwards. The government has already entered into an MoU with SAITM and the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) for the setting up of these two institutions. Once the Attorney General’s Department approves this, the MoU will be converted into a legal agreement.

Based on the agreement, SLIIT will establish the new institutes under the guidance of the government which will take over the ownership and management of SAITM’s assets, liabilities, staff and students.

The ‘sunset’ institution will be approved by the SLMC in accordance with the Minimum Standards.The SLMC is to specify further measures (clinical training and assessment in state hospitals) necessary for students who have received degrees from SAITM, to meet these Standards and thereby gain Provisional Registration.

Both institutions will not operate for profit, the committee states.

The ‘sunrise’ institution will be a company limited by guarantee that charges fees, but re-invests any excess income over expenditure in the institution, including in the provision of scholarships based on financial need.

In addition to the above, the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital will be transferred to the Health Ministry, allowing the State medical sector to gain a Rs. 3.2 billion asset at no cost to the State.

These legal measures was proposed by the nine member committee on the heels of a Presidential communique‚ calling for a pragmatic solution which is legally acceptable to the current shareholders, so lending institutions and new entities may take over all operations, management and assets so to provide a degree which complies with the Minimum Standards on Medical Education and Training.

This proposed solution, according to the committee, resolves many issues surrounding SAITM which included allegations that SAITM does not meet the necessary or satisfactory standards to award a medical degree.There were also allegations that SAITM’s profit making motive averts the goal of creating good doctors.

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