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Quality Assurance Authority to assess private universities

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The government hopes to set up a Quality Assurance Authority (QAA) to ensure that private institutes of higher education maintain the required standards.

Power and Renewable Energy Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera said the draft bill on the Authority had been approved by the Attorney General’s Department and will be submitted for Parliamentary approval soon.

Addressing a media briefing on the subject of private medical universities at the Department of Government Information yesterday (15th May), he said the QAA is to be an independent body which will assess the standards of all private universities and have the authority to shut down those who do not conform.

As issues of standards and the privatization of medical education were brought to the fold once again with the establishment of the South Asian Institute for Technology and Medicine (SAITM), the government has been grappled with the wider question of its policy on private higher education.

Perera said there had been confusion over what action needs to be taken as the government’s policy on the matter.

“We have now resolved the issue and made public our stance through a notice in all newspapers”, he said.

The government has proposed to take over the Dr Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital and run it as a state hospital where all medical students can have access to its facilities, halt further intakes of students to SAITM until all recommendations are implemented and have students qualified from SAITM sit for a special exam decreed by the Sri Lanka Medical Council in order to be recognized as doctors.

Perera said there had been no opposition from Dr. Fernando over the proposal and he had agreed to hand over the hospital to the government at no cost.

Apart from this, the government has also taken steps to: “legislate the minimum qualifications that are mandatory for pursuing medical education in any university; make it mandatory for all private medical universities registered in Sri Lanka to maintain high academic standards, administrative procedures and proper management practices and all requiring that all such university are governed by a Board of Governors and are listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange as to broad base public ownership through shares; involving the private sector to increase quality higher educational opportunities within Sri Lanka for students who qualify for University admission but cannot be accommodated in the state universities; advising private higher educational institutions to increase the number of scholarships provided to eligible and needy students and increasing the number of students admitted to existing medical faculties in the state universities and setting up a new medical faculties (Kuliyapitiya and Sabaragamuwa)”.  (CDN)