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Hefty cash for education hinders doctors’ career

Statesman News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |

Athulya of Trissur in Kerala who qualified in the NEET medical  PG examination held in January 2018 with 621 marks,  received a call the other day from an agent offering help in getting admission for MD/ MS course in colleges under a deemed university.

When she told him that the allotment to PG seats will be done through the Directorate General of Health Sciences (DGHS), he told her that most of the shortlisted candidates will not join the course because of various reasons. Once the counselling processes completes, these seats would be converted to management seats. He then told her that his consultancy can arrange her one of such seats. For this, he demanded three crore. Such calls are being received by Athulya’s  friends too, who has qualified in the NEET medical PG.

The claim of the agent that most of seats for PG medicine would be available with the Management of the private deemed universities after the counselling process appears correct, in the backdrop of the fact that after two rounds of counselling by the DGHS, nearly 90per cent of MBBS seats in several deemed universities across the country were vacant last year.

It is reported that in Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, 128 of 250 MBBS seats were vacant in 2017 after the second round of counselling. Saveetha University, Chennai and DY Patil University in Navi Mumbai each retained 137 of 150 seats. In SRM Medical University, Chennai, 137 of 150 seats were lying vacant last year.  The main reason attributed for the meritorious students not joining the MBBS/ MD courses in deemed universities was the prohibitive fees. Many of the medical colleges under the private deemed universities, the fee  for MBBS ranged between Rs 12 lakh-Rs 23 lakh and  around 40-60 lakhs for PG medical courses. This shows that the medical colleges under the private deemed universities will continue to stay out of the bounds for financially weak meritorious students who have scored high ranks in NEET medical UG and PG examinations.

In this connection, it may be noted that a Constitution Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave in Modern Dental college and research centre and others Vs state of Madhya Pradesh case (Civil appeal No.4060 of 2009) has in May 2016 ruled that the right to establish and administer private unaided professional institutions is not absolute, but subject to the regulatory powers of the State meant to check profiteering.

“The Constitution is primarily for the common man. Larger interest and welfare of student community to promote merit, achieve excellence and curb malpractices, fee and admissions can certainly be regulated.”the court said

Underlining that education is a “not a business” but a “noble activity” aimed at empowering people,  the Constitution Bench ruled that the State is authorised in law to regulate admission, fix fee as well as lay down any other regulatory mechanism that promotes merit and curbs commercialisation in institutions of higher education.

In a  petition filed by a group of students , the Madras high court in June 2017 has  ordered that the UGC and HRD ministry set up a committee to regulate fees in medical colleges coming under deemed universities. Following the orders of the Madras High Court in June 2017, it is learnt  the HRD ministry has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC)to constitute a committee to work out a fee structure for all medical colleges affiliated to deemed universities. But, the ministry and UGC  are learnt to have achieved no remarkable  progress   towards fixing  fees for UG and PG medical courses in private medical colleges

All the deemed to be universities are regulated by the UGC (institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2016. The fee structure of deemed to be universities has to be fixed in accordance with clause 6.1 of the UGC regulations The deemed  to be universities have not yet announced the fee structure for the PG medical courses for the current year. Going by the last year’s fee structure,  in most of the colleges,it may be  between Rs 40-60 lakh. This reflects the fact that the medical courses under the private deemed universities will be going the rich way, even after the SC has ruled that the State is authorised in law to regulate admission, fix fee as well as lay down any other regulatory mechanism that promotes merit and curbs commercialisation in institutions of higher education.

The Centre should take the responsibility to bring a reasonable fee structure for UG and PG medical courses in medical colleges.