The University of Peradeniya is the legacy of the University of Ceylon first established in Sri Lanka in 1942. Faculty of Allied Health Sciences (FAHS) is the youngest and the 8th Faculty of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. This Faculty was established within 6 months of its proposal, as an exit manoeuvre to accommodate the first batch of allied health students who were admitted to University of Peradeniya under the umbrella of Faculty of Medicine, but failed due to various protest campaigns. This was inaugurated on the 16th January 2007 at the Old Dental Faculty premises, Augusta Hill, Peradeniya just 1 km away from the main campus.
The University Grants Commission openly invited the seven Faculties of Medicine in the country to initiate curriculum development for any number of programs from amongst the 7 on offer. Accordingly, the Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya with a strong recommendation from its Board accepted to conduct 5 degree courses at Peradeniya, namely, 4 year B Sc degree programs for Nursing, Pharmacy, Radiography, Physiotherapy, Radiography and Medical Laboratory Science in May 2005. The University Grants Commission advertised these courses for the Advanced Level students qualifying in 2005/2006 UGC handbook and began its selection process in November 2005. At this time a protest campaign emerged from the medical students at Peradeniya against sharing facilities within the Faculty of Medicine with the allied health students. They demanded along with the members of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) at Peradeniya and Kandy to move away these study programs elsewhere. This was a clear discrimination against the allied health students already entitled to utilise all facilities available in a national university according to the free education act.
Presently the Faculty consists of five academic departments and two units namely, Department of Pharmacy, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Medical Laboratory Sciences and Radiography & Radiotherapy. This faculty is currently offering five 4 year undergraduate degree programs in allied health sciences for the qualifications of B Sc Nursing, B Sc Physiotherapy, B Sc Medical Laboratory Science, B Pharm (Pharmacy), B Sc Radiotherapy and B Sc Radiography. The first batch admitted to this faculty (171 students) is now following above courses amidst the fast tracked infrastructure development process of the new faculty in parallel. At present, 150 students are admitted annually student enrolment stands at about 711 undergraduate students. There are 17 permanent academic and 39 non – academic members of staff in the faculty.
The Faculty of Allied Health Sciences offers course of study leading to four years Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Degrees. From the academic year 2005/2006 the 1st year courses are offered on a semester based course unit system. This has significantly increased the course combinations available to students allowing far more flexibility of selection of subject areas. This system was extended to the 2nd, 3rd & 4th year courses in successive years. With the introduction of the Course Unit System, the medium of instruction for all course of study offered by the Faculty was being confined to English.
The General / Special (3+1) degree programme has been introduced to the 2009/2010 batch of students .General degree students may at the end of 3rd year be selected based on performance (2.8 GPA) and given the option of following courses for an additional year with special emphasis on industry-related courses leading to a B.Sc. degree in related disciplines in place of a General Degree.
The Faculty also planned to conduct on line diploma and degree programme in allied health sciences jointly with the CDCE and are proposed for future implementation.
The curricula of the FAHS are designed to prepare a new generation of allied health workers whilst assisting the current workforce to adapt to new knowledge to face the new challenges in modern medical practice, where, doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, radiotherapists and radiographers work in a team for quality health care delivery. Their dedication, training, ability and attitudes form the basis of quality health care.
This new FAHS would bridge the knowledge and skill gap between the doctors who are trained to the highest standard via the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) of the University of Colombo, and the allied health personnel, enabling their specialized knowledge applicable in full force in this country whilst preparing its graduates to be competitive anywhere in the world.
In Sri Lanka, we can still be consoled that many doctors are supportive of the provision of high quality university education for the allied health students. Thus, we believe a cordial relationship will develop against all odds among allied health graduates and doctors to provide better health care for the sick in this country in the future.