By Amavasya Sirisena
Pic by Gemunu Wellage
Under the proposed liberalization of the higher education sector, 11 Non-State universities are to be given green light, Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake said recently.
“Sri Lanka’s Higher Education Ministry has already given full permission for 11 Non-State institutes to deliver degrees for Sri Lankan students independently,” Dissanayake said.
Further elaborating the importance of establishing private universities Dissanayake exclaimed: “Apart from that we already have university institutions that provide degrees in the fields of engineering, information technology, management, administration and accountancy. There are altogether four institutions that provide engineering degrees, 14 Non-State and private institutions offering degrees in information technology (IT) while there are 21 university institutions granting degrees in management, administration and accountancy. In addition there are seven institutions to impart legal education for Sri Lankan students.” “Today, three hundred and fifty thousand students sit for advanced level examination while around one hundred and fifty thousand students get qualified to do higher education. We could only take 27,000 students for 2011/2012 academic year as still higher education ministry has not been able to take extra 6,000 students to universities because of scarcity of space.”
“We all are aware that 160,000 Sri Lankan students study in international schools even though their parents are not in a position to afford their education there due to the high term fees charged. On the other hand we are still unable to facilitate university education for those students in our own State universities even though around 12,000 students sit for London A/L every year. What is sad is that many of these students are not in a position to go abroad for study,” stated Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake speaking at the opening ceremony of Dr. Neville Fernando Sri Lanka – Russia friendship teaching hospital (NFTH) Malabe held recently. The minister also emphasized the importance of providing ample facilities at State universities while at the same time promoting the Non-State private sector to establish educational institutes in the country.
Dr. Neville Fernando, a Sri Lankan businessman and former politician has endorsed the promotion of the initiative in the opening of NFTH mainly to satisfy the need for a teaching hospital for The South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), at the same time providing standard and a quality service for both the rich and the poor.
SAITM Obstetrics and Gynecology Professor Deepal Weerasekara sharing his views with Ceylon FT on NFTH said: “This is the largest private sector hospital in this country. This hospital has 1,002 beds unlike any other hospital which cater to both rich and poor. For the rich the hospital has about 120 luxury and semi-luxury rooms where the rich can get their medical attraction in a comfortable way. Not only for rich, we have over 800 hospital cubical beds which are very clean provided with all the facilities such as good food, sanitary facilities and proper medical attention at a very nominal fee.”
Dr. Weerasekara explaining the unique features of NFTH added: “Before even starting the functions of this hospital we have already recruited over 40 full-time eminent consultants as they are all highly experienced. In addition we have already recruited eight professors to the hospital. All these professors are really the top 10 professionals in their own specialties.”
Further NFTH provide services compromised with 24-hour emergency treatment unit, family clinic and outpatient department (OPD), Indoor facilities such as medical, surgical, pediatric, obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatric awards, multi specialty daily clinics, channel chambers, operating theatre complex, intensive care unit, modern labour rooms, 24-hour radiological investigation services X-rays, Doppler studies, CT scan, ultra sound scan, pharmacy, blood bank and so on with high-end medical equipment.
“In addition to these facilities NFTH has all other facilities required by a teaching hospital to the benefit of medical students. We have over six lecture halls in the hospital equipped with multimedia projectors and all other facilities that are important for teaching. Among these exciting features the most important feature in clinical training is our special inbuilt camera which has been fixed in every operation theatre in order to give every student a chance to watch the whole operation from beginning to end on a giant screen in a lecture hall where about 100 students can sit comfortably. They can also question the surgeons and clarify their uncertainties and queries,” added Dr. Weerasekara.
Answering the question on how NFTH is going to promote standard and patient friendly health care service for an affordable price at the same time never compromising on the standard and the quality of medical care and cater medical education for SAITM students Dr. Weerasekara said: “NFTH is really not built for profit meeting. It is more of service oriented and the benefit comes from the fee that we charge from the students of SAITM. Not only the fee coming from medical students but also a small amount of the fee that the institute charges from other faculties (Faculty of Engineering, ICT and Media and Management and Finance) will also be utilized in order to provide better services.”
“Sri Lanka’s medical education sector is very popular as we have mostly specialized doctors. Our health facilities are on par with any other developed countries. Our health facilities are far beyond that of the facilities provided by other South Asian countries. So we can surely attract foreign students for medical training as now we already have around 30 – 40 foreign students in SAITAM,” said Dr. Weerasekara when questioned on the response received from foreign students.
SAITM, formerly the South Asian Institute of Technology and Management, is a privately owned educational institution providing higher education in Sri Lanka. It is the first private sector Green Campus to be established in the country. It has run into controversy with regard to its facilities to award degrees and the validity and legality of the MBBS degrees it awards. SAITM offers a friendly environment, excellent staff and great facilities in a lively city in the heart of Sri Lanka’s first technology park. SAITM is a contemporary campus providing quality tertiary education for the students of today.
NFTH is a unique private hospital developed and supported by the SAITAM offering a complete range of services located with clean air and green environment in a highly convenient area in Malabe away from the hustle and bustle of the city.