Private Medical College in Malabe ? -
03-07-2009, 03:58 PM
The Medical College students’ unions have once again launched protest campaigns against the establishment of a private medical college in Sri Lanka. Their main argument is that the medical degree awarded by this private medical college costs Rs.5,000,000 and as such the medical profession will be flooded with the children of wealthy families. They have also raised doubts regarding the quality and standard of education that will be provided by private medical colleges and surmise that such a move to establish a private medical college will be detrimental to the public.
The argument of the Medical College students’ unions will most certainly hold water, if at present, no students with degrees other than from Sri Lankan universities are admitted to the medical profession. However, there are a large number of students at present who secure foreign medical degrees and enter the medical profession after sitting an examination held by the Sri Lanka Medical Council. Medical degrees from countries such as Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Nepal, Iraq, Libya, Latvia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea have been recognized by the Sri Lanka Medical Council and students who qualify from unheard of foreign universities have been enrolled to the medical profession. Why are these students’ unions ‘mum’ about those who obtain foreign medical degrees from remote parts of the world for a far heftier tuition fee? Why do they only protest the establishment of a private medical college in Sri Lanka which is accessible to a larger number of Sri Lankan students and which can be administered under the supervision of the UGC to ensure a high standard?
A foreign medical degree is far costlier than Rs.5,000,000 and the standard of some of these degrees is questionable. It is the children of a very few extremely wealthy families who have the privilege of sending their children abroad for a foreign medical degree. However, if a private medical college is established in Sri Lanka, a larger number of students will have the opportunity of securing a medical degree for a far cheaper price than what would be spent abroad. Children of the middle class, especially those of the public and private sector employees, who have secured enough marks to qualify for a medical degree, but who cannot enter a state university due to the lack of capacity, may finally have opportunity of realising their dreams. There are many parents who may not be able to afford a foreign education for their children, but who can scrape together sufficient funds to provide an education at a private medical college in Sri Lanka. Would it be so detrimental to society to have a private medical college under the guidance of the proper authorities and under the supervision of the UGC, specially when qualifications from foreign medical universities in remote parts of the world, of unknown standards, have been accepted by the Sri Lanka Medical Council?
The protests by the university students’ movements are understandable. With more students securing medical degrees, there is bound to be fierce competition in the profession. Demand for a higher standard of work, efficiency, commitment and discipline, is bound to surface. The increase in the admissions to the medical profession will result in rendering ineffective, the many strikes that the GMOA at present conducts to hold the government to ransom. Therefore, most certainly, these students’ unions will raise protests, not in the interest of the country, but from selfish motives, to create a dearth of doctors in the country and ensure their own job security. These students’ unions callously disregard the convenience and comfort the patients will enjoy, in having a greater number of doctors in the country, the increase in efficiency and the standard of care a competitive environment would enable.
The students’ unions which protest vehemently against the establishment of a private medical college may not have considered the following:
a) Out of the 210,000 students who sat the GCE Advance Level Examination in 2007, over 100,000 are qualified for university education. However, only 19.6% of those students are admitted to state universities, primarily due to the limited capacity available in universities
b) The financial resources available for university education are insufficient and there is a severe discrepancy between the supply and demand for higher education in Sri Lanka
c) Of the 81.4 % of students who fail to gain admission to state universities, some students continue their higher education by entering foreign universities incurring tremendous costs. There is a considerable amount of foreign exchange which is expended for education abroad of local students to the detriment to the economy of Sri Lanka, mainly due to the lack of capacity of state universities to accommodate all those who qualify for university education. The foreign exchange expended by the country for the previous year was close to Rs.6.2 billion for education
d) The dispatch of students abroad for higher education also has cultural consequences, leading to a disintegration of the family unit and the exposure to unsuitable cultural traits etc
e) The educational standards and quality of some of the educational institutes abroad are not recognised by any regulatory authority of Sri Lanka and as such, there are drastically varying standards for the same qualification
I have been made aware that the private medical university to be established in Malabe is constructed purely with private funds with no assistance from the government, whatsoever. This university is to have its own teaching hospital and would not utilize any government resources for their medical courses. Therefore, the establishment of this university would not jeopardize in any manner the interests of the state universities. Their funding and resources remain intact.
Furthermore, all teaching personnel at this private university are expected to possess post-graduate qualifications. Those recruited to teaching positions are to have qualifications not less than those necessary for a teaching position in universities maintained by the government of Sri Lanka. Both local and foreign expertise are to be utilised in providing assistance to students, in their respective courses of study.
Admission of students to this private university is to be guided by the educational standards prevalent for the admission of students to state universities. Once enrolled, the standards of performance required from these students are to be no less than the standards maintained in the state universities.
It appears that the protests of the students’ unions on the basis of the Rs.5,000,000 fee have no merit or substance, whatsoever.
These protests merely display the selfish attitude of some medical students, no doubt encouraged by some political figures with archaic mindsets, whose aim is to stifle the few opportunities created for the youth in this country to fulfill their ambitions.