Home Ministry instructs police to arrest medical college owners if they fail to refund studentsCollege operators refuse to budge and insist the set fee ceiling is not scientific.
The government has directed Nepal Police to arrest the owners of medical colleges if they don’t refund the additional fees charged to the students by Tuesday.
A meeting held at the Ministry of Home Affairs in the presence of education minister and attorney general on Monday instructed the police to resort to arresting the concerned medical college owners, as they have repeatedly disregarded the government’s directives to refund the students.
On September 23, the Ministry of Home Affairs had given a month’s deadline for the medical colleges to either refund or adjust the extra fees charged to MBBS and BDS students.
As the college operators did not heed to the directive, the ministry on November 11 issued a 15-day ultimatum to pay the refunds. As the ultimatum expired on Sunday without any response from the college operators, Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel on Monday called a meeting of concerned parties to find a solution.
The meeting held at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology was attended by the vice-chancellors of Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University, the chairman of Nepal Medical Council, the vice-chairman of Medical Education Commission, and the representatives of the concerned medical colleges.
The meeting, however, ended in a logjam, as the college operators refused to pay the refunds. They argued that the fee structure fixed by the government was not scientific, and it was wrong to ask them to pay the refunds.
With the medical college owners adamant on their stance, a separate meeting convened later in the day at the Ministry of Home Affairs directed the Nepal Police to arrest the college owners if the students did not get their refunds by Tuesday.
However, for the police to intervene, the students will have to file formal complaints.
“The police will take necessary action after the students have filed complaints,” Kedar Nath Sharma, spokesperson at Ministry of Home Affairs, told the Post.
The meeting held at the Education Ministry earlier in the day had asked the college operators to come up with a written commitment to return or adust the additional money by Tuesday afternoon if they don’t want to face the law. The college operators refused the government’s request, but they are expected to make their position clear by Tuesday.
“There is no problem in abiding by the government’s directive, but our concerns also need to be addressed,” Dr Suresh Kanodiya, owner of Nepalgunj Medical College, told the Post. “I don’t think arresting the college owners is the right solution.”
He said the college owners will hold a meeting to decide their position on Tuesday.
The government in October last year set the fees for MBBS courses at Rs3.8 million for private colleges in Kathmandu Valley and Rs 4.24 million for those outside the Valley. However, different reports suggest colleges have been charging up to Rs 6 million.
On November 10, the National Vigilance Centre, an anti-graft body under the Prime Minister’s Office, said in a report that numerous medical colleges across the country had collected over Rs3 billion in additional fees from students for arbitrary reasons.
Different government and parliamentary committees have also concluded that medical colleges have been fleecing their students, but no action has been initiated as of yet.
Medical students have been holding protests for the past several months demanding that their colleges comply with the fee ceiling determined by the government and return the extra fees.