Medical colleges continue to overcharge students while authorities remain passiveStudents say the Medical Education Commission has not taken any action despite receiving complaints against some colleges.
Despite receiving complaints of some private medical colleges charging exorbitant fees from their students, the Medical Education Commission hasn’t taken any action against the colleges.
Students have alleged that other than issuing statements, the commission has largely remained passive.
On Sunday, a group of students from Nepalgunj Medical College had filed a case at District Administration Office, Banke, claiming that the college had been charging them an additional fee of Rs 300,000 under the heading of internship fee and security deposit.
Copies of the complaint were also sent to the commission and Kathmandu University. The commission had not initiated any action against Nepalgunj Medical College as of Wednesday.
“I had to pay an additional fee because the local administration in Banke and the commission took no step to enforce the fee ceiling set by the government,” a father of one of the students at Nepalgunj Medical College, told Post on condition of anonymity because he feared the college would target his son.
While the officials concerned agree that it is illegal to force the students into paying fees above the set ceiling, they feel no urgency to stop it, the concerned father added.
Chief District Officer in Banke Kumar Bahadur Khadka confirmed to the Post that his office had received a complaint against Nepalgunj Medical College but said that he cannot initiate action unless the students press a fraud charge against the college.
“I can proceed with the required action only if they [students and their parents] file a fraud charge,” Khadka said.
When asked whether he called the college officials to instruct them to follow the fee ceiling, the district chief replied that would not be effective.
Last year on October 18, the commission had increased the fees for the five and a half years MBBS degree programme to Rs 4.43 million (Rs 1.48 million during admission) in colleges outside the Kathmandu Valley and Rs 4.23 million (Rs 1.34 during admission) in the Valley.
However, several private medical colleges, including Nepalgunj Medical College and Biratnagar-based Nobel Medical College, have been allegedly charging additional Rs 200,000-300,000 from students at the time of admission. The students said the colleges would not admit them unless they paid the demanded fee.
It is unfortunate that the government agencies have been unable to implement the fee ceiling, Sujan Kadariya, spokesperson for the Medical Student Struggle Committee, told the Post.
“Instead of refunding the exorbitant fee they had charged earlier, the colleges have continued to charge additional fees from students. Meanwhile, the commission and the local administrations are mere spectators,” Kadariya said.
Following a series of protests from medical students, the government have repeatedly directed the concerned colleges to refund the additional fees they had charged in the last academic session. A majority of the colleges have not only followed the directives, but they are carrying on violating the fee regulation in this new academic session that began this month.
A report by the parliamentary committee on Health and Education showed the medical colleges had charged over Rs 2 million higher than the government ceiling in the previous academic session.
Similarly, a probe by the National Vigilance Centre showed that private medical colleges in the country extracted nearly Rs3 billion in additional fees from their students under different arbitrary headings in three consecutive academic years from 2015 to 2018.
Kadariya says the unabated ‘cheating’ from the medical colleges continues as the commission remains ineffective in performing its duty. He warned that they will resort to a protest starting next week if the commission continues to remain idle.
The commission led by the prime minister was constituted last year in the course of meeting the demands of Dr Govinda KC, who has long been campaigning for reformation in medical education and health sector.
The officials at the commission say they are working their best to make sure there is no cheating to the students.
“We have written to the respective universities to regulate the colleges under them,” Dr Shree Krishna Giri, vice-chairman of the commission, told the Post.