The Higher Education Ministry yesterday dismissed allegations by the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and assured that the medical faculties of local universities countrywide would not be hampered by legalising of the private medical university in Malabe.
Higher Education Ministry consultant and former University Grants Commission (UGC) Vice Chairman Rohan Rajapakse said the ministry intends to increase facilities for universities countrywide through a World Bank grant meant solely for the purpose of developing tertiary education in Sri Lanka.
Prof. Rajapakse maintained that the private medical institute in Malabe was a legitimate institution which had the legal right to continue functioning in Sri Lanka. He said the Universities Act of 1978 gives the Higher Education Ministry the degree granting the right to any institution and that therefore the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) was a legal institution although the GMOA has stated otherwise. Rajapakse said it is not necessary for medical lecturers to pass the Act16 exam as it is not mandatory for them to be practising doctors to be recruited into the academic staff. “The Ministry and the UGC have recognised the importance of developing universities. Therefore no one can say we haven’t given enough attention to these matters. Therefore the accusations made by the GMOA are incorrect,” he said.
He said local university lecturers valued their jobs and would not choose to take up full-time positions in private institutions despite such claims being made by the GMOA. However lectures are encouraged to take their sabbatical to work in private institutions, he said. Through the World Bank grant better facilities will be made available to the Jaffna, Eastern and South Eastern universities in the first category of tertiary education development plans, he said. (Olindhi Jayasundere)