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Sri Lanka's new medical college fills void
09 May, 2009 15:48:33
By Ranmali Kongahage
May 09, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's Institute of Technological Studies (ITS) which has formed a partnership with a foreign partnership to start a medical college says its output will be readily absorbed in to healthcare sector.
ITS head E M S Edirisinghe, who is also the president of the Oasis, a private hospital says there is a shortage of qualified doctors in the country.

He said Oasis hospital would need thirty or forty doctors immediately to fill its entire cadre.

"But they are not available," Edirisinghe said. "Either we have to import or we have to depend on those who are working in the government sector. So this is not an acceptable solution to this country's health care problem."

St. Theresa's Medical College, partnering with a medical college of the same name in St. Kitts in the Caribbean will be Sir Lanka's first private medical college.

The college would absorb a few of the tens of thousands who pass the local advanced level exams but fail to make into the limited available state university places, which are run with tax-payer money.

In Sri Lanka only six percent of those who pass the advanced level examination have places in state universities.

Students who have completed their secondary education in international schools as well as foreign students who intend studying medicine are eligible to enter the new college.

"We will give first choice to Sri Lankan students because there’s a lot who come out of international schools," Edirisinghe said.

"They have no place to go because they have no place in the Sri Lankan universities. But their qualifications are enough for bachelor of medicine (MBBS) education."

In Sri Lanka the state has a virtual monopoly in awarding degrees. Many parents send children abroad at great expense to educate their children with a degree, mortgaging their houses and cashing in life-savings.

Private universities could change the situation and also add to the country's knowledge capital stock.

In 2007, Sri Lankan students cost their parents over 60 million dollars, higher education minister Vishwa Warnapala has said.

The British Council said the number of Sri Lankan students going to the U.K. for higher studies is growing 25-30 percent annually.

The MBBS is estimated to cost approximately 10,000 U.S. dollars to complete, said Edirisinghe.

Students also would also avoid the delays faced by those in state universities which are frequently closed due to clashes.

However, there is opposition from state university students unions, to the setting up of private degree awarding instructions in Sri Lanka, where students bear the cost of the education instead of the tax-payer.

A private medical college was initiated in the 1980s but it was later shelved amid protests.

St. Theresa’s Medical College said it has now received government approval.

Officials from St. Theresa’s Medical College said the new college would be evaluated by the Sri Lanka Medical Council, a regulatory body, each year.

Its project consultant Oshala Herath says St.Theresa's is listed under the World Health Organization's (WHO) approved list of colleges.

The Colombo campus of Saint Theresa’s medical college hopes to start this June with a batch of seventy five students who would be selected from the 200 applications ITS has received so far.

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READER COMMENT(S)
9. asanka Jan 25
Its better to hav more opertunities to many people. bt PMC will nt be the solution for that. yes u ar right students who ar in government universities spending tax payer's money of the country.. Bt the are tax payer's children. according to my views higher educaton oppertunities should be expanded for people who are nt elegible for local universities.

But priority should be gone to the person who get 3B's in AL exam and just miss the chance to enter a local university before giving chance to a big bussinesman's son who jst got 3S's in AL exam. this would never happen through a PMC....

8. Thilak Jan 22
There should be a opportunity for higher education. If the government is unable to get the large nos to the government univesities there shoul be some options. No one has right to kill the other’s future. We have to give chance to the youth. We have to find opportunites and possible financila asitance for poor youth who are unable to find money for their further studies. It is the duty of us.

After getting their qualifications they can very easily find better jobs in foreing countries and foreing exchange will be sent to the country. It will enhance the development opportunies in all sectors. We can expan the education opportunites for next generation. Think broadly.

7. Maadha Jul 19
This is a good start. We are very late but happy for the late start. Iam persoannaly proud of this and many thanks to decision makers. Will there is a equal distribution to all the eligible students
6. Peter.De.Abrew Jul 10
There are Private Medical schools all over the world.India has a large number and there are a large number of sri Lankan students there and in Nepal.What a colossal waste of foreign exchange.St; Theresa's will reverse this and bring in foreign exchange.

Mr.Edirisinghe should be congratulated on this venture.IF the public university students want to protest they should also protest about Sri Lankan students going abroad to study medicine and also against all other fee levying teaching institutions.Students with the requisite qualifications should not be discriminated against just because their parents have the money! We should all support this venture.

In almost every country the students have to pay for their University education either at the time or later.Then we can retain our good dons and have meaningful research done.Peter

5. Sarekha May 29
I remeber the pevious Medical College started in mid 90s'. Finally that was converted to North Colombo Medical College. I would think this College won't be like that. This is a great opportunity to students who really wish to be a doctor.
4. Chaminda May 11
Wonderful this is what we want something that will generate skilled people in less time, if the students can afford whats the big deal. dear protesters please do not shout for petty personal reasons think about the country
3. Lanka Positive May 10
Rightly said... Sri Lankan government should also start paying degree courses to local as well as foreign students.
2. Salman May 10
6% of elligible A/L students get a place in university is disgraceful. The rest have to do manual work or unskilled jobs in Sri Lanka or abroad, just because they didnt get a place in uni or didnt have the money for foreign education. These students will generate much more deserved foreign income if they could get a degree and find employment in the middle east or west as graduates.

With manpower being one of the biggest foreign income generators in Sri Lanka the government should think of giving every qualified A/L student further education and sending them abroad as engineers, doctors, accountants etc. This would be a major money generator. Its time to stop local undergrads controlling the education policy of the country and put the country first.

1. Maskara May 10
Many people think that it is possible to “buy” a university degree if somebody had the money. My question to them is, is it possible to “buy” qualifications like a CIMA, Chartered Accountancy or CIM just because you have the money?

The answer is No. You can’t buy a good qualification just because you have the money. Shouldn't the same logic apply for a good degree. Unfortunately some so-called most intelligent cream of students in student unions in local universities lack the intelligence to understand this point. There was a time when our education system was the best in the region.

Had local universities opened their doors for eligible paying students, they could have used the income to grant more scholarships, world class facilities and more “free” seats for students. Sri Lanka could have been the higher education hub for the region and attracted the enormous amounts of students and income.

Its not too late though. I hope our Sri Lankan Students Unions protest in support of such profitable and productive measures by authorities. Long live St. Theresa’s Medical College!