Controversy over SAITM graduates,
students being denied entry

Annual College of Surgeons sessions:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Those who had graduated from the SAITM (South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine) as well as SAITM undergraduates were deprived of an opportunity to attend clinical sessions of the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka at the Grand Kandyan Hotel on Aug. 18, some of the affected told The Island.

Three batches had so far graduated from the SAITM and several hundred more students were undergoing studies there.

A senior SAITM spokesperson said that they had received several complaints from those denied entry on the second day of the three-day 46 annual academic sessions 2017 of the College of Surgeons organised in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the SAARC Surgical Care Society.

The faculty of lecturers comprised both local and foreign surgeons.

Sources alleged that organisers turned them away in spite of charging them Rs. 5,000 entry fee for the three-day programme. Organizers had been sharply divided over the decision though finally those who toed the GMOA line prevailed much to the disappointed of SAITM students, they said.

Although six had been affected all of them weren’t refunded, sources said, adding that foreign participants would have been really surprised by the unexpected turn of events.

A senior medical professional however said that those who had graduated from SAITM and those still studying there weren’t qualified to attend the sessions. Those who had been denied entry on the second day after being found out of their presence couldn’t be unaware that SAITM was still under a cloud, he said. Responding to a query, the official insisted that SAITM shouldn’t expect special status at the expense of the College of Surgeons.

SAITM spokesperson insisted that their students and undergraduates had participated in sessions of various other colleges representing medical professionals though they never had to undergo such humiliating behaviour. The spokesperson compared the treatment SAITM students and graduates had undergone at the hands of a section of the College of Surgeons to that of harassment faced by NCMC (North Colombo Medical College) undergraduates and graduates years ago.

Sources alleged that the JVP and its breakaway factions, particularly the Front line Socialist Party (FSP) were spearheading the GMOA initiated campaign against SAITM and one of the most influential trade union organizations was being used in a high profile political project.

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