South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine

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South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine
South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine-Logo.png
Type Private[1]
Established 2008 (2008)
President Dr. Neville Fernando
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ananda Samarasekara
Academic staff
194
Location Malabe, Sri Lanka
Campus Main Campus, 4 acres (Suburban), Malabe
Colors Blue, green
        
Affiliations Buckinghamshire New University, Asian Institute of Technology, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy
Website www.saitm.edu.lk

The South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) (originally known as the South Asian Institute of Technology and Management) is a privately owned educational institution providing higher education in Sri Lanka.[2] It is recognised as a degree awarding institute under section 25A of the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978.[3][1][1] It is the first private sector Green Campus to be established in the country.[4]

SAITM has become a highly controversial national issue with various segments questioning its standards and legality in terms of its operations as the only private medical college in the country.[5][2] In July 2016 the government of Sri Lanka suspended the provision for new admissions at the medical faculty of SAITM.[6] In February 2017 the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka upheld its legality and the validity of the medical degrees awarded by it, instructing the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) register its graduates as medical doctors. SLMC has since appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, while as of yet the SLMC has not recognized the medical degree of SAITM for the purpose of Registration to Practise Medicine and Surgery in Sri Lanka under the Medical Ordinance.[7][8][9][7][10][11] The SAITM medical course is one of only 17 programs worldwide that The General Medical Council of the United Kingdom has noted specifically by name as "medical qualifications (they) do not accept" [12] and is the only Sri Lankan Medical course not accepted by the GMC.

History[edit]

The South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine was established in 2008 by Dr. Neville Fernando with the aim to provide tertiary qualifications in medicine, engineering, and information technology, management and finance, and information communication technology and media. The institute was initially affiliated with the Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy (Russia), the Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand) and Buckinghamshire New University (England), awarding degrees through those respective institutes.[13] In 2011 SAITM applied for recognition from the University Grants Commission (UGC) as a degree awarding institution, with the ability to award its own degrees.[14] The UGC, in 2013, granted SAITM a degree awarding status despite protests from the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) and the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA).[15] SAITM held their first convocation in March 2013, conferring degrees to ten students from the Faculty of ICT and Media and eighteen students from the Faculty of Management and Finance.[16]

In 2017 President Maithripala Sirisena proposed to list SAITM on the stock exchange to as an answer to criticism on its ownerships allowing anyone to buy shares. Sirisena pointed out that over 75,000 to 85,000 Sri Lankan students go overseas annually for higher education which could be reduced if quality private universities exist in Sri Lanka. Health minister Rajitha Senaratne also echoed similar sentiment claiming that proper guidelines will be established to administer SAITM which will also be applicable to future international universities that have expressed willingness to expand into Sri Lanka.[17]

Following a fast unto death campaign performed by the parents of State Medical Students, on 8th Nov 2017, the Government of Sri Lanka, decided to abolish SAITM, suspend the new enrollments immediately and to do a fair inquiry to the students already enrolled in. [18]

Degree programs[edit]

In 2011 the Ministry of Higher Education recognized SAITM as a degree awarding institute in terms of Section 25 (A) of the Universities Act No.16 of 1978.[19] As such the UGC has approved SAITM to award the following degrees[1];

Controversies[edit]

Medical qualifications[edit]

Sri Lanka[edit]

In 2016 the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) and the Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) have both publicly stated that they were opposed the provisional registration of medical graduates from SAITM to practice as doctors in Sri Lanka.[20][21][22] But it was later over ruled by the court of appeal and it was informed that the graduates of SAITM can register with Sri Lanka Medical Council.[23] Recently parents and students of the SAITM requested to postpone the final examinations as they have had no or minimal formal clinical training.[24] In 2017 Russian Ambassador Alexander Karchava also spoke up for SAITM and revealed that Nizhni Novgorod State Medical Academy has continuously expressed satisfaction with the training of Sri Lankan students and honors the ties with SAITM. According to him over 54 Russian doctors and professors worked in SAITM on a shift basis ensuring that SAITM students gain quality medical education.[25] However Nizny Novgorod medical academy denies having any connections or affiliations with SAITM. According to Irina Tatarinova, Director National Accreditation Agency Russia, SAITM is not accredited in Russia: "The National Accreditation Agency maintains the Database of accredited Higher Education Institutions in the Russian Federation. This Database does not contain any information about Sri Lankan Campus of Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy. This means that this joint program is not accredited in Russia."[26]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the General Medical Council has listed SAITM as an institution whose graduates from the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine are ineligible for licensure. Issuing a statement titled "Overseas medical qualifications not accepted by the GMC", it said that the body would not accept applications to sit the PLAB test or for registration from graduates of the medical schools mentioned in it including the SAITM.[27][28][29]

Wasim Thajudeen murder case[edit]

On 3 October 2016, the Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka confiscated 26 human body parts from the institute's laboratory during a search operation carried out to locate the missing body parts of suspected murder victim Wasim Thajudeen.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36]

Staff Controversies[edit]

Sameera Senaratne[edit]

In early February 2017, two men travelling on a motor bike wearing full-face helmets opened fire at the car of SAITM's Director of Medical Education Sameera Senaratne [37] who was at the wheel at the time of the incident, at Malabe. He did not suffer any injuries despite the attackers allegedly shooting at him at close range. Subsequent inquiries raised suspicion that the shooting was staged by Senaratne and a politician known to him, to depict the anti-SAITM protests brewing in the country at the time in an unfavourable light. A later Police investigation pointed to the shooting could have been staged by Senaratne himself [38] [39] [40]

Nandalal Gunaratne[edit]

Nandalal Gunaratne is listed as a 'Consultant Urologist' and 'Senior Lecturer in Surgery', [41] and as the 'Head of Clinical Sciences at SAITM'. [42]. Gunaratne has been barred from the practice of surgery in Australia, following investigation into his competence in 'the most basic of operations' as reported in the Australian press [43] [44]

Ananda Samarasekara[edit]

Ananda Samarasekara is SAITM's Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine[45]. Samarasekara had an arrest warrant issued by the CID in October 2017 on charges of concealing evidence and misplacement of body parts in the alleged murder of Wasim Thajudeen. He surrendered to the Colombo Magistrates Court in October 2017 [46] [47] and has been granted bail[48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Other Recognized Degrees". University Grants Commission. 
  2. ^ a b Jayakodi, Jayasri (16 January 2009). "MoU signed to set up first private sector Green Campus". Daily News. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Accreditation Degree Programs". Ministry of Higher Education and Highways (Sri Lanka). Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  4. ^ Perera, Gayani (1 February 2009). "SAITM for education with character". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  5. ^ Nizar, Rushdy. "Eight medical faculties request to suspend SAITM degree until standards are met". Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  6. ^ Hettiarachchi, Kumudini (24 July 2016). "SAITM: Govt. agrees to immediately halt admission of new students to Medical Faculty". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Sri LankanUniversities" (PDF). Sri Lanka MedicalCouncil. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  8. ^ Rathnakara, Ishara. "SAITM wins major battle against SLMC". Ceylon Today. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  9. ^ Selvanayagam, S.S. "Court directs sl medical council to register SAITM's MBBS graduate". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  10. ^ Kannangara, Nirmala. "The Fraud Perpetrated By SAITM". The Sunday Leader. Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  11. ^ "SAITM illegal: Gammanpila". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  12. ^ https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/before-you-apply/acceptable-overseas-qualifications/overseas-medical-qualifications-we-do-not-accept
  13. ^ Jayaweera, Lakshitha (27 September 2009). "SAITM - The first Green campus in Sri Lanka". Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "SAITM -On a journey to become the best higher education institution in South Asia". The Sunday Times. 24 July 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  15. ^ Kumar, Ramya (26 December 2015). "Should the government open state hospitals to SAITM medical students?". The Island. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  16. ^ "SAITM Convocation 2013 – A Grand Event". The Sunday Times. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  17. ^ "SAITM shares to be offered on the stock market". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  18. ^ http://www.sundaytimes.lk/article/1034512/saitm-to-be-abolished-new-enrollments-suspended-deputy-minister-harsha-de-silva
  19. ^ "SC allows GMOA to intervene in SAITM appeal". 
  20. ^ Jayamanne, Dilanthi (7 September 2016). "SAITM graduates stake their right to practise medicine". The Island. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  21. ^ Karunaratne, Vickramabahu (27 August 2016). "SAITM needs guidance". Daily News. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  22. ^ "SAITM Students demand Equal Rights". The Sunday Leader. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  23. ^ [1], SAITM graduates could register with Medical Council : DailyMirror.
  24. ^ Dhanushika. "SAITM quality to be investigated". 
  25. ^ "Russian Ambassador speaks up for SAITM". Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  26. ^ "The Fraud Perpetrated By SAITM - The Sunday Leader". www.thesundayleader.lk. 
  27. ^ "UK Medical Council says SAITM qualification unacceptable". www.dailynews.lk. Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  28. ^ "SAITM qualification not accepted by British Medical Council". www.hirunews.lk. Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  29. ^ "Overseas medical qualifications not accepted by the GMC". www.gmc-uk.org. Retrieved 2017-09-14. 
  30. ^ "Thajudeen Murder: CID Confiscates 26 Body Parts From SAITM". Colombo Telegraph. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  31. ^ "Thajudeen murder: Body parts were dispatched to SAITM". Front Page. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  32. ^ Sooriyagoda, Lakmal (21 September 2016). "Wasim Thajudeen murder: Missing body parts taken to SAITM". Daily News. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  33. ^ "Thajudeen murder: missing body parts moved to SAITM - CID". Adaderena. Ada Derana. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  34. ^ "Thajudeen murder: Missing body parts taken to SAITM". The Nation. The Nation. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
  35. ^ "Thajudeen's body parts sent to SAITM by ex-JMO=". Colombo Gazette. colombogazette. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  36. ^ Ferdinando, Shamindra (9 September 2016). "AG's submissions in respect of Thajudeen's missing body parts IUSF wants govt to go whole hog". The Island. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  37. ^ http://www.saitm.edu.lk/fac_of_medicine/staff_adm.htm
  38. ^ https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/police-on-the-hunt-for-culprits-who-staged-saitm-ceo-shooting/
  39. ^ http://www.dailynews.lk/2017/02/28/local/108977/saitm-ceo-shooting-was-staged-police
  40. ^ http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/SAITM-CEO-allegedly-stages-shooting-Police-124628.html
  41. ^ http://www.saitm.edu.lk/fac_of_medicine/surgery/dept_staff.htm
  42. ^ http://www.saitm.edu.lk/fac_of_medicine/surgery/dept_staff.htm
  43. ^ https://www.smh.com.au/national/doctor-barred-from-surgery-20081205-6shj.html
  44. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-12-07/rhh-surgeon-being-investigated/231710
  45. ^ http://www.saitm.edu.lk/fac_of_medicine/foremed/dept_staff.htm
  46. ^ http://www.dailynews.lk/2017/10/19/local/131821/former-colombo-jmo-profananda-samarasekara-surrenders-colombo-magistrate
  47. ^ http://www.hirunews.lk/173901/prof-ananda-samarasekera-surrenders-to-court
  48. ^ https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/wasim-thajudeen-ex-colombo-jmo-ananda-samarasekera-granted-bail/