President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) has been directed to broad-base its ownership via listing it on the Colombo Stock Exchange.
“A reason for the opposition to SAITM is the sole proprietorship. We will direct SAITM to list on the Colombo stock market to broad-base ownership.
Even ordinary people can invest in SAITM if they want to,” President Sirisena told heads of media institutions yesterday.
Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, who was with the President, said a similar strategy will be pursued with two other medical college ventures proposed by the famous Monash University of Australia, with an investment of $ 1.3 billion, and Manipal University as well.
President Sirisena said SAITM had also been directed to set up a professional and competent Board of Governors as practised by international institutions. Furthermore, SAITM will be required to increase its number of scholarships as well as revise its fees.
These new measures are in addition to previously announced decisions on the SAITM issue including requiring students of SAITM to face a test to be conducted under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Medical Council and the University Grants Commission, clinical training at state hospitals in Homagama or Avissawella and taking over the Dr. Neville Fernando Hospital to be operated as a Teaching Hospital.
The President and Minister Senaratne said the Government had made these decisions after a series of discussions with all the parties concerned, including SAITM management, the Government Medical Officers’ Association, education authorities, medical students, medical doctors associations, SAITM students and their parents.
The President pointed out that 75,000 to 85,000 Sri Lankan students go abroad annually for higher education and if there were private institutions in Sri Lanka it would be great relief to them as the cost would be much less.
“We will not undermine the free education system or neglect it but continue to strengthen it. However, at the same time, our policy is to encourage private universities and colleges with proper standards for the benefit of future generations,” the President emphasised.