Medical colleges charging exorbitant fees in absence of watchdog

By Manjima Dhakal, Kathmandu, Aug. 23: The Parliament had endorsed the National Medical Education Act six months ago with a plan to regulate the medical education sector and the government had also constituted the Medical Education Commission (MEC) as envisioned in the Act. 

As the government has not appointed officials at the MEC, the monopoly of the medical colleges has remained the same this year as it was in the previous year. The Act has provisioned the MEC for the overall management and supervision of the medical education sector, including fee fixation, monitoring, granting affiliation to new medical colleges and even annulment of the colleges if they are found violating the rules.

The government has failed to recruit all officials to the commission, including its vice-chairperson. The commission chaired by the Prime Minister will have 25 members. The Education Minister and Health Minister are co-chairs of the commission. Vice-chairperson is the executive of the commission.

Dr. Usha Jha, member of officials’ recommendation committee, said they were doing exercise to appoint officials in the MEC, the watch-dog of medical education sector. “The task of appointment as well as fee fixation will be finalised soon,” she added. Now, all private medical colleges across the country have been charging exorbitant fee to the guardians of MBBS students by going against the fee structure set by the Cabinet. Besides MEC, there is no mechanism to regulate and take action against the institutions while the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MOEST) often tends to escape the issue.

Hari Lamsal, joint secretary at the MOEST, said that the Ministry has now only the right to work regarding medical education in coordination with the MEC.

The Cabinet has fixed Rs. 3,850,000 as maximum fees for MBBS course in the Kathmandu Valley-based medical institutions and Rs. 4,245,000 for those colleges outside the valley. Likewise, Rs. 1,932,000 was fixed for the BDS course.

Yam Bahadhur Adhikari of Bharatpur was forced to enrol his son on the MBBS course at Chitwan Medical College last year only after he committed to paying Rs. 5,400,000 for the four years’ course.

He paid Rs. 2,700,000 at the enrolment time but he received the receipt of only Rs. 2,122,000. “We all guardians know the colleges are cheating us but we have no any option but to enrol our wards paying extra money because all colleges have been charging high fees.”

He suspected involvement of the government authorities in monopolising decisions and actions.

Not only the Chitwan Medical College, all medical colleges across the country have been charging more than Rs 6.5 million from each student.

Meanwhile, the government has not fixed the fee structure for the coming academic session. But the Act has a provision that the MEC will decide the fee based on the inflation rate.

So, this year fee is likely to increase by up to five per cent. 

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