Thu, 24 Jun 2021 Today's Paper

Government should consider private universities as international commercial ventures

1 October 2015 03:09 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

Currently high-level discussions, arguments, news, etc., are transpiring about the negative and positive aspects of the private medical college - the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) in Malabe in light of a recent Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) report to the Health Ministry. 

The SLMC has repeatedly taken the position that the SAITM does not have enough facilities for its students to get a comprehensive clinical training on all required areas from the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH) located a few meters away from the SAITM University. 

The SAITM does not dispute this; it claims that although NFTH is the biggest private hospital in Sri Lanka with accommodation for over 1000 in-house patients and modern diagnosis methods and state-of-the-art operating equipment at its disposal, its students would still need a few months’ clinical training from government hospitals to gain medical clinical experiences on certain sections that are presently not available at NFTH. However, the SAITM is certain that within a couple of years, NFTH would be a fully-fledged teaching hospital. 

Moreover, there exists an agreement reached by the Health Ministry and SAITM in 2014 to provide the necessary clinical training for the SAITM students through government hospitals. However, the SLMC along with the medical students’ union of state universities have expressed disapproval for this agreement but without a credible reason. Due to this, the government is reluctant to honour the agreement and to provide clinical training for medical students at the SAITM. 


Status of some students will be pathetic if not for pvt. universities
It is understood that in the name of free education the government has to spend a huge chunk of its revenue for state universities and due to the continues financial crisis, it can only accommodates a few of the deserving students, hence the Z score threshold on top of the minimum grade. Thereby, many of the qualified students are left out.

In the case of students who sat Edexcel or Cambridge A/Ls examination (some of whom were high achievers in many subjects) they are not at all considered for government university entrance. Primarily, they should not be deprived of any opportunity to study medicine in Sri Lanka just because their results cannot be standardized with local examination results as claimed by the University Grant Commission (UGC).

All the students (over 800) studying medicine at the SAITM have in excess of the minimum academic qualifications stipulated to follow an MBBS course in Sri Lanka. All students seeking to follow medicine MBBS at the SAITM have to undergo a few interviews and in the final interview some members of the UGC are also included. So, no one is under qualified as claimed by the student union of the state universities.

So, if not for the SAITM, over 800 potential medical students, even with the ability to arrange funds by selling properties and assets to pay the SAITM fees, will be in a pathetic situation without able to pursue medical studies.


Great blessing to government
It’s beyond doubt that 100s of private schools (generally called as international colleges or schools) that are in operation islandwide are a great blessing to the government since the government is spared from all expense of educating these students right from Grade 1 onwards.

Similarly, the establishment of private universities, especially private medical colleges (PMCs), will be of a great blessing to the government and the aforesaid qualified students.

Those able and willing to, will chose to study at foreign universities in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc., each having to spend an average of about Rs.8.0 million (over US $ 60,000). So, considering an average of  about 2000 students studying abroad, our country losing valuable foreign exchange of about Rs.16.0 billion (US $ 120.0 million) annually. 

This is a huge drain on foreign exchange to our already indebted country. Each of the aforementioned countries has 100s of private universities and they are big foreign exchange earners to their countries. Today, the main income of the UK is said to be from private or government subsidized colleges and universities. Their gain is our loss. 

Many of our politicians talk about creating a knowledge-based economy, where the main resource is the minds or knowledge of people themselves. When considered seriously, this can only be achieved with a good tertiary education system in the country. And a good education system cannot be provided by the government alone and would need to be subsidized and charged. Consider the UK, a highly successful and the greatest knowledge-based economy, they too don’t provide free education at tertiary level. With a great economy, the UK government can afford to provide a free health service but cannot provide free education for all deserving students. However, the UK government grants loans to deserving students. So, only allowing studying medicine in Sri Lanka through state universities isn’t the way forward and is highly unlikely to lead to a knowledge-based economy since the government would never be able to cater to all students.

Sri Lanka should be more attentive for the development of private universities for local and hopefully foreign students to seek professional studies in medicine, engineering, IT fields, etc. There is a great potential for such universities with international standards to attract foreign students in thousands. Private universities are in a better position naturally to align its education strategy and curriculums to meet the economic needs of the country and the demands of the competing global market. Thereby we are certain within a short period Sri Lanka can earn a very high income by way of foreign exchange, which can bypass the income of traditional export commodities, whilst saving our country from the drain of foreign exchanges in billions.


Govt. should get involved with active participation of President 
Therefore, the government should give high priority to this neglected sector. Our government should be in a position to brush off petty differences and problems that may be created by various parties and must get involved at a high level to facilitate the local private universities to overcome whatever the shortcomings that have to be faced at the initial period. 

The President of this country should immediately form a high-powered committee under his chairmanship and that should include members from the SLMC, quality and standard assurance persons, Export Development Board, Board of Investment (BOI), Higher Education Ministry, Trade and Commerce Ministry, etc. 


Sri Lanka as an education hub in Asian region
While ensuring the sustainability and quality of free higher education for those few who are lucky enough to enter state universities through merit, if Sri Lanka can promote the creation of even a few fully-fledged and international standard private universities, very soon we will be in a position to cater university education to all our prospective students and also foreign undergraduates. 

Our professionals from all sectors will get overseas employment to reap billions as foreign exchange and also through foreign undergraduates coming to our country. This is one of the easiest ways to accelerate the development of this country. 

M. Azeem Ismail
Parent 
Email: calm5522@gmail.com
See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 1

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

 
  • Ananda weerakoon Wednesday, 07 October 2015 05:12 PM

    Good article.The respective government should get immediate action at least now to solve this problem as a national issue.80% qualified students, specially in bio stream, are out of the state universities although they are citizen in this country. Cream is out in the country on district basis selection . Alternative arrangement is necessary for those students. Otherwise their rights are violated. SLMC and the GMOA should act in mature manner in this regard without pitty arguments. If clinical training is allowed to PMC students at Govt. hospitals, they will be far ahead with the path. Their ability should not be under mind. While tightened the neck of the persons by a hand of another , any body can not expect actions from that person properly. Higher Education Ministry, Health Ministry should take collective action in this regard on behalf of the responsible National Government to solve this national issue now. This is not a cry for sector ,but for innocent students .


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment


SLPP eats humble pie over fuel price hike statement

The statement put out by SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) General Secretar

GSP+: Isn’t there a way out?

The European Parliament’s resolution on Sri Lanka on June 10 was the second

Is Litro Gas above the regulator?

After an in-house battle among members of the top management of the Consumer

Statistical blunders expose administrative weaknesses

Information helps save lives and during a pandemic a free-flow of vital, accu



See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.