Oli government making efforts to secure affiliation for B&C Medical CollegeEducation Minister Shrestha pushes the affiliation proposal at the senate meeting of Kathmandu University.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli recently announced that B&C Medical College in Birtamod, Jhapa, will soon get affiliation from Kathmandu University.
Oli’s announcement came just a week after the senate meeting of the university, where Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha had pushed the proposal of granting affiliation to the medical college.
Even though the issue B&C affiliation was not on the agenda of the February 24 senate meeting, Minister Shrestha had reportedly pushed the proposal just about the meeting was about to conclude.
The senate meeting ended without taking any decision on the matter. But when the meeting’s minute was released two days later, Bed Mani Dahal, a senate member, said it was mentioned in the document that the senate had consented to grant affiliation to B&C.
“Some of the senate members have objected to the act of imposing a decision that the senate did not consent,” Dahal told the Post.
During the senate meeting, Dr Rajendra Koju, dean at Kathmandu University Medical College, had said the university was not in the position to issue consent on the matter of granting affiliation to a medical college without approval from the Medical Education Commission.
Unlike in the past, the commission is the final authority to decide whether or not to grant affiliation to medical colleges.
Minister Shrestha, an ex-officio pro-chancellor of the university, is also a co-chairperson of the commission.
In the senate meeting, Shrestha had said that the university should let the commission take the necessary decision on the issue of granting affiliation to B&C Medical College.
Dahal, a professor at Kathmandu University, said Minister Shrestha’s statement showed the government’s desperation to grant affiliation to the medical college.
B&C Medical College is owned by Durga Prasai, who has close relations with Nepal Communist Party leaders including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
KC, an orthopaedic surgeon, has been demanding reforms in the country’s medical education sector, including depoliticisation in medical colleges.
The Medical Education Commission was formed as per the Medical Education Act endorsed by Parliament to address the concerns raised by KC. The Act bars a university from granting affiliations to more than five medical colleges.
Kathmandu University already has 10 affiliate medical colleges.
Dr Shree Krishna Giri, vice-chairperson of the Medical Education Commission, said he was unaware about the decision of Kathmandu University’s senate meeting. “I don’t see any legal ground in granting affiliation to B&C Medical College,” he told the Post. “We have to see on what ground the university will propose while seeking approval for affiliation.”
Officials at Kathmandu University, meanwhile, say they have merely opened the door for the commission to take the necessary decision.
“It has been five years since B&C got the letter of intent from the government. The senate decision is just a request to the commission to take the necessary decision,” Bhola Thapa, vice-chancellor at the university, told the Post. “Let the commission decide, even if there are legal barriers.”
Asked why the senate made the decision if there are legal barriers, Thapa said it was the proposal from the executive and they agreed to forward it.
The senate is the supreme body of the university which holds the authority to make the policy decisions including the affiliation. However, Prime Minister Oli and Education Minister Shrestha have been making public announcements about granting affiliation to B&C Medical College.
A day after pressuring the Kathmandu University senate to pave the way for granting affiliation to B&C Medical College, Minister Shrestha had said at a public event that he was against the idea of stopping affiliations to colleges.
He also said that at least nine colleges were in line to obtain affiliations for different programmes from different universities.
Education experts have criticised the Oli-led government for meddling in the affairs of universities.
“The government is destroying the autonomy of universities. It seems like the Singhadurbar [executive] has prevailed over the Kathmandu University senate,” Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University, told the Post.
Along with Mathema, nine other former vice-chancellors from different universities have voiced their reservation over the incident that took place in the senate meeting of Kathmandu University at the behest of a minister in the Oli government.
“It is unfortunate that the academicians who should have been working to maintain the autonomy of the universities are working under pressure. We request all stakeholders to correct their decision,” the former vice-chancellors said in a joint statement on Wednesday.