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Sri Lanka government
received the green light to allow private universities after a landmark court
judgment last week ruled that the South Asian Institute of Technology and
Medicine or SAITM – the country’s first private medical university – is legally
eligible to issue medical degrees.
The court decision followed
a long dispute, and protests and strikes by public university student unions
and doctor unions. Students were injured and 21 arrested during another march
In a verdict announced on 31 January, the Sri Lankan Appellate Court directed the Sri Lanka Medical Council
to provide provisional registration as medical practitioners to students
graduating from SAITM in Malabe, which is close to the capital Colombo.
The ruling came after a writ
was filed by MBBS students of the private university, when the Sri Lanka
Medical Council refused to register a batch of its graduates.
Health Minister Rajitha
Senaratne hailed the verdict. He said the country needed private medical
universities as it was practically difficult for state universities to provide
opportunities for all students.
According to Higher
Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella, several foreign universities are closely
monitoring the SAITM case with a view to setting up branches in Sri Lanka.
Institutions such as India’s
private Manipal University have expressed a willingness to establish campuses
in the country.
SAITM students and their
parents welcomed the court verdict, but protests against the university are
likely to continue.
Doctors in Sri Lanka have
threatened island-wide strike action beginning next week. From the beginning,
doctor unions have opposed the institution.