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Medical and Dental Education now for the rich only

PAMI reigns supreme

Medical & dental college fees increase amid complete disregard for students, faculty and facilities

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LAHORE: The fees for the medical colleges increased with central induction and imposition of fines for accepting donations, it seems that the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council’s (PMDC) policy on the fresh admissions for 2017-18 is for the rich and mighty only.

PM&DC being a regulatory body ended up negotiating with the Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI) to ensure unbridled power and huge financial benefits for medical and dental institutes. The board has almost completely set aside the PMDC Regulations 2016 for admissions to MBBS & BDS programmes.

The policy does not lay emphasis on ensuring that the private colleges also fulfill their part of the bargain by ensuring stipends, faculty  and facilities as laid down in PM&DC guidelines.

If implemented, it will take the medical and dental education away from the middle and even upper middle class families, what to talk of poor families.

Talking to Dental News, dental community has expressed strong reservations with regard to these recommendations stating that PM&DC being a regulator must ensure best interest of all stakeholders specially students whose interests do not feature in the whole plan. Dr Mahmood Shah President PDA in a letter addressed to PM&DC President Dr Shabbir Lehri has expressed concerns of the entire dental community and questioned the need for such a one sided decision while completely ignoring the parents and students who will only suffer from such a decision.

Interestingly there is no mention of the mandatory 50 bed for free treatment or the minimum stipend during house job which as per PM&DC rules should not be less than the maximum stipend paid by any public sector institution in the province.  

 

Headed by PMDC Vice President Prof Dr Abid Farooqi, the board consists of the council members Prof Dr Eice Mohammad, Prof Dr Khaliq Naveed, Prof Dr Ejaz Hasan Khan, five representatives from private medical colleges, council’s acting registrar Prof Dr Syed Azhar Ali Shah and Assistant Registrar Dr Sitara Hassan.

The draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) titled “Admission Regulations for Entry to Medical & Dental Colleges and Subsequent House Job” has been approved and signed by the PMDC’s board and the representatives of the Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI).

As per the recommendations, the PMDC, the board and the PAMI have agreed to finalize admissions for the private medical and dental colleges before the beginning of the same process in the public sector institutions of the country.

Under the recommendation, if implemented in the present form, the top merit students desiring admissions to government institutions will have to wait for the completion of the same process in private sector colleges. This is a dangerous game as both parents and students stand to suffer having to secure their seats first in the private sector and then wait for the government merit to be announced.

The board also decided that all private medical/dental colleges will be allowed to advertise for admission after the declaration of the entry test result. One might ask, what is the reason for holding a single test for all the medical and dental students?

The board has recommended an increase in tuition fee from Rs 600,000 to Rs 800,000, adding more financial burden to the private medical students. However there is no mention of ensuring bare minimum facilities by PAMI members and also no agreement on minimum stipend during house job. The amount of stipend or salary by whatever name which is paid to house officers or internees in the private sector hospitals shall not be less than the highest amount paid in any public sector hospital of that province as per PM&DC S.R.O. 1003 (1)12016.

The board has also recommended that the candidates must have to deposit fee for five-year programme in the form of post-dated cheques, which is not only unprecedented in any education field let alone medical, will make the students and their parents financial prisoners of the institute. Depositing post-dated cheques means, a student will have to pay full tuition fee for the five or four year programme at the time of admission.

As per the board’s recommendations, the selection to a private medical college will have an additional determining factor i.e. the ability of a student to pay for the full course of studies.

Making it more and more commercial a private medical/dental college shall have the right to refuse admission to any candidate who does not provide the financial sureties listed above at the time of the interview, the board recommends.

The dictatorial powers given to the private institutes under this particular proposal was being considered a potential threat to the future of the candidates not having both “the merit and money”.

According to PM& DC admission regulations 2016 and gazette notification of October 27, 2016, the maximum fee or charges as annual tuition fee per student excluding university examination fee, taxes, hostel fee and trans ort fee cannot exceed Rs.642,000 and the admission fee capped at Rs.50,000. Most of the private institutions across Pakistan are violating the law.  

There is no binding on any college to ensure that qualified faculty is hired as per PM&DC rules as a matter of fact many of the private colleges are running with ghost faculties. Professors are working abroad and they are shown as employees of the institute.

“The provision of five post-dated cheques for a medical college or four post-dated cheques for a dental college by the candidate will be acceptable as a proof of being able to pay for studies at a private medical or dental college”, the recommendations read. What will happen if the parents go into financial crisis or the cheque is dishonored, will the student or the parent be liable to go to jail for that?

Another recommendation empowers the private medical and dental colleges to supervise themselves the admission process to their respective institutes.

Under the recommendations, the private medical colleges shall constitute committees comprising of a principal, two professors and the finance director of the respective institute to determine the admission. No one from either the affiliating varsity, health department or the PMDC will be included in the committee, giving it unbridled powers to make admissions as per its own policy.

The board has also recommended for the first time termination of the aptitude test for admission to any private institute.

As per minutes of the board meeting, the condition of incorporating an aptitude test in the entry test has been removed till such time that the PMDC devises a fair mechanism for this purpose.

Under the proposals, the respective private institutes will not be bound to display merit list of the candidates.

All these recommendations have been made in blatant violation of the PMDC Regulations 2016 that allowed each affiliating varsity in a province to carry out centralized admissions to private colleges, and the candidates to deposit tuition fee in the online accounts.

If implemented this will be the darkest chapter in the history of medical and dental education in Pakistan.

September 23, 2017

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Dental is part of the Medical News Group of publications which in 1968 became the pioneer of medical journalism in Pakistan. Medical News is the only periodical in Pakistan which has 3 simultaneous editions from Karachi, Islamabad and online.

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