Allied Health Science undergrads protest

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Undergraduates of the Allied Health Sciences (AHS) Faculty of the Peradeniya University yesterday launched a signature collection campaign from the Fort Railway Station in protest against reducing their four-year degree programme to three years.

President of the AHSF Students’ Union Rajitha Prasad told The Island that there were five AHS degree courses – Physiotherapy, Radiography, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Pharmacology and Nursing – at five universities of the country.

He said that new degrees started in 2006 in Peradeniya, Colombo, Sri Jayewardenepura, Eastern, Rajarata and Ruhuna universities were of four year duration. "The University Grants Commission and Higher Education Ministry decided to cut it down to three years from 2009," Prasad said, adding that it had resulted in lowering the quality of the degree.

The duration of similar degree courses in reputed foreign universities was four years or more, the student activist said, adding that they would not be able to go abroad for higher studies after graduation.

Prasad said that they had fought for the last three years but the government had not heeded their demand.

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake said that undergraduates’ claim was baseless. It had been limited to a three-year course, but students who qualified to specialise would have to complete four years, he said.

"We consulted the University of Wales in the United Kingdom when designing the AHS course. The Wales course is also three years. Deaking University of Australia also offers a three-year nursing degree. The Singapore State University’s nursing degree is also a three-year course," the minister said. He said that the JVP breakaway faction, Frontline Socialist Party, was instigating the Peradeniya undergraduates to protest.

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