Regulations for the maintenance of minimum standards of medical education have been issued by Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne.
They come after months of controversy over the medical degree programme at the private South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), with the Government Medical Officers’ Associations and university students strongly protesting against SAITM degrees.
The regulations have been made in consultation with the Sri Lanka Medical Council and on the consideration of the comments of each university or institution which grants or confers any qualification which entitles a person to obtain registration under the Medical Ordinance. Every recognised university or institution within or outside Sri Lanka which grants or confers a medical qualification, alone or jointly with any Sri Lankan or foreign recognised university or institution under affiliation or under a twin medical programme is required to ensure that the minimum standards set out in the regulations are adhered to and maintained in the conduct of its medical education.
For students who enter the educational programme directly from secondary school, with at least twelve years of schooling, the duration of the medical educational programme shall be at least five academic years. Every student admitted to the medical degree programme of a university or institution should have passed the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) Examination of Sri Lanka or an equivalent examination, in the subjects of biology, chemistry and physics with minimum grades of credit passes in the subjects of biology and chemistry, at one and the same sitting.
The university or institution will be allowed to formulate and implement a policy on admission based on principles of objectivity and make a clear statement on the process of selection of students. The policy will be required to take cognizance of the admission policy of the relevant state higher education system, opportunities for differently-abled students and the transfer of students from one programme or university or institution to another when the curricula are compatible and there is academic continuity.
The regulations also set the minimum number hours required in clinical training for medical students in different disciplines. Access to a field practice area to provide students with adequate community based clinical experience and access to facilities for training in clinical forensic medicine and pathology are also required.
The regulations will come into operation on approval of Parliament.