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LAHORE: The Admission Board of the Punjab government has decided to hold the entrance test for admissions to MBBS/BDS one month ahead of the schedule this year.

Constituted by the Punjab government, the board consists of vice chancellors, and principals of 18 medical universities and colleges of the province. University of Health Sciences VC Maj Gen (Retired) Prof Dr Muhammad Aslam presided over the board.

According to the decision taken by the board in its April 24 meeting, the entrance test for the session 2014-15 and onward will be conducted on Aug 30. For the last two decades or so, the test was being conducted in the last week of September every year.

According to the board’s new schedule, the first selection list for MBBS/BDS will be displayed on Oct 30 instead of Nov 15.

The decision was largely taken in order to check `malpractices’ on the part of many private medical and dental institutions in Punjab which would start admissions before display of the list every year. Candidates with 85-86 aggregate percentage had been the main target of such institutions.

“About 1,000 high-merit students would apply for admission to private sector medical colleges every year in sheer confusion”, an official privy to the information told Dawn.

He said these brilliant students would put on stake huge amounts as fees and other expenses in order to join the medical profession at any cost.

Each student would apply for admission to at least three to four private medical colleges and deposit Rs5,000 application processing fee and Rs75,000 admission fee. Some private medical colleges ‘forced’ the students to deposit Rs600,000 tuition fee as well.

If a student luckily found his name on the selection list of any government medical college, he was not entitled to refund his admission fee (Rs75,000) deposited with a private medical institution.

Last year, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) had cancelled all admissions made by University Medical & Dental College, Faisalabad and warned 23 other private institutions in Punjab of disciplinary action for violating the council's regulations and putting the future of the students at risk.

The board meeting took up the issue following complaints by the affected students and unanimously agreed to implementation of the PMDC rules and regulations in private medical institutions.

According to the board’s decision, the official entrance test results will be declared on Sept 10, the MBBS classes will start on Nov 17, first selection list of BDS on Dec 10 and classes will start on Dec 22. It also took many other decisions in the meeting.

The board agreed that the pattern of entrance test and syllabus might remain same.

It was agreed that the data of last four years with regards to aptitude testing will be shared with all the members of Admission Board.

As per PMDC regulations, the weightage formula is: matriculation/equivalent marks 10pc, FSc/equivalent marks 40pc and entrance test marks 50pc.

There was consensus in the meeting that the PMDC formula might be followed for the calculation of merit. However, some members were of the view that the weightage of score of entrance test - a 150-minute exam - was too hefty as compared to the FSc exam which was a full-fledged examination. It was decided that the matter would be taken up with the PMDC.

It was decided that Sialkot might also be declared a centre for entrance test this year as there was a public sector medical college in the city.

Besides, the UHS was allowed to set up multiple centres in a city if the number of candidates was found to be too large and logistic arrangements were inadequate.

The meeting lauded Punjab for least burdening the candidates by charging only Rs500 as entrance test fee as compared to other provinces. Balochistan was charging Rs3,500 as entrance test fee, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rs1,500 and Sindh was charging Rs1,900 and Rs1,000 from the candidates.

The board has recommended no increase in the tuition fee this year to facilitate poor students. It, however, allowed 10pc increase in the utility charges for hostels this year, in view of increased rates of electricity and gas.