Refund additional fee or get ready for action, government tells medical collegesMedical colleges who are at fault have been given a month to ensure all payments be made to students who have paid more than the ceiling amount.
The government on Monday directed medical colleges to refund all MBBS students who have been charged additional fees.
Following weeks of protest from the students who were forced to pay an additional fee, a meeting among the Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa and the Minister of Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel along with other education officials was held to address the issue. The meeting came to the conclusion that local administration would be authorised to take action against medical colleges if they don’t refund the money to students within the given deadline, which is a month.
“We discussed the ways we could ensure that students would get back their money,” Mahesh Dahal, education secretary, told the Post. “The National Medical Commission has been authorised to take the necessary steps to this effect.” He said the students who have the bills of the payment would their money back.
MBBS students from Chitwan Medical College, in Bharatpur, and Gandaki Medical College, in Pokhara, had protested for more than two weeks, demanding that colleges refund the extra amount that they had been charged.
On Saturday, MBBS students had protested in Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu, demanding government intervention to ensure that all the medical colleges be forced to return the money. Dr Govinda KC, a senior orthopaedic surgeon who has been fighting against malpractices in the medical education sector, too had taken to the streets together with the students to put pressure on the government.
The government in October last year had set the fee for MBBS courses at Rs3.8 million for private colleges in the Kathmandu Valley and Rs 4.24 million for those outside the Valley. However, colleges had been charging up to Rs 6 million.
Following the government’s decision to crack down on the colleges, Chitwan Medical College has agreed to refund students, while Gandaki Medical College is yet to commit.
But these are not the only colleges that were overcharging students. Various research work, including a recent study by a sub-committee under the parliamentary Education Committee, showed that Nepal Medical College, Universal Medical College, KIST Medical College, College of Medical Science, Nobel Medical College, Devdaha Medical College and National Medical College too are charging students exorbitant amounts.
Students had been demonstrating daily for the past few weeks, but the government, instead of taking action against the colleges, had been using force against the students.
Though the Education and Health Committee of Parliament had formed a sub-committee to study the matter and probe if there were any wrongdoings on the part of the medical colleges, its recommendations were in favour of colleges.
In addition, instead of recommending action against college operators, the sub-committee recommended increasing MBBS quotas for medical colleges. It also blamed students and their parents for paying the amount as demanded by colleges instead of resisting.