Private medical college operators threaten not to enrol students in the present scenarioDr Govinda KC warns of another hunger strike if the malpractices in medical education don’t stop.
As the government prepares to take actions to control the malpractices in medical colleges and the National Medical Commission works towards fixing the MBBS fee, the association of medical education providers has threatened not to enrol new students in the present scenario.
Submitting a memorandum with seven demands to the government, the association said it will close all the MBBS and dental schools once the enrolled students graduate. It takes around six years for the MBBS students to get the degree.
The Association of Medical and Dental Colleges of Nepal led by Basruddin Ansari, owner of the Birgunj-based National Medical College who is also a leader of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), said the recent government act has terrorised private medical educators.
It claims that the government’s steps to discourage enrolment of foreign students and cut the student quotas and unscientific way of fee determination are forcing the colleges to opt for closure. “We are not in a position to operate the medical colleges in the present situation. We won’t enrol new students,” Ansari told the Post. He claimed all 18 private medical colleges, including three dental schools, are bankrupt.
The threat of private medical colleges comes at a time when the government, following students’ protests, has warned them to refund additional fees they charged from medical students or face consequences while the commission is working to determine the fees for the new academic session.
Students from private medical colleges, who are protesting against their colleges demanding that the additional fees be refunded, say the threat of the colleges is to pressurise the government to increase the fees and quotas for the new session. The Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University have already conducted entrance tests but admissions have yet to begin.
“They [medical colleges] are trying to build pressure to increase the fees. We ask the government not to succumb to their threat that will not last long,” Anit Sinha, a third-year student in Gandaki Medical College, who also is the general secretary of the Medical Students Struggle Committee, told the Post.
Dr Govinda KC, a senior orthopaedic surgeon who has been fighting against the malpractices in the medical education sector, also has asked the government to strictly implement its decision to refund all the additional fees the medical college have charged. He added that the allocation of MBBS and BDS seats should be done scientifically and free of pressure.
“I would be compelled for protests such as hunger strike if the government doesn’t work towards ending the malpractices in the medical education sector,” KC warned. He has already staged 16 hunger strikes.
Ansari, who was a mayoral candidate of then CPN-UML for Birgunj in the local elections held in 2017 and a UCPN (Maoist) Constituent Assembly candidate from Parsa constituency-2, however, claims that they are genuinely under pressure. He said the government’s decision to slash the MBBS seats to 100 from 150 and BDS seats to 50 from 75 is the primary reason for their poor financial health. “How can the colleges refund the money which has already been settled,” he questioned.
The government in October last year set tuition fees for MBBS courses at Rs 3.8 million for private colleges in Kathmandu Valley and Rs 4.24 million for those outside the Valley. The fee is Rs 1.9 million for the BDS course. But different studies have shown that all private medical colleges have been breaching the government ceiling and charging up to Rs 6 million for the MBBS course.
Along with the increase in MBBS fees, the private medical colleges also want the government to allow them to enrol more foreign students whom they charge double in fees compared to Nepali students. They want every student who has faced the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test in India directly get admission to a Nepali medical college. Currently, foreign students willing to pursue a medical degree in the colleges under Tribhuvan University have to take entrance tests conducted by the Institute of Medicine.
Dr Krishna Krishna Giri, executive vice-chairman of the commission, said they will try to resolve the issue through dialogue. “They can put for their demands, but we will abide by the legal provisions while determining the fees and allocating the MBBS and BDS seats,” he told the Post.