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LAHORE: The recommendations furnished by high-powered panel of the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) on the fresh admissions for 2017-18 appear to be heavily tilted in favour of private colleges, envisaging unbridled power and huge financial benefits for these institutes.

In the six-page recommendations (a copy available with Dawn), formulated in a crucial meeting on Monday, the board has almost completely set aside the PMDC Regulations 2016 for admissions to MBBS & BDS programme.

If implemented in letter and spirit, the recommendations will push the students and their parents into a blind alley.

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 finalise 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.

“All private medical/dental colleges will be allowed to advertise for admission after the declaration of the entry test result”, the PMDC board declared.

Similarly, the board has recommended an increase in tuition fee from Rs600,000 to Rs800,000, adding more financial burden to the private medical students.

Moreover, the board has recommended that the candidates must have to deposit fee for five-year programme in the form of post-dated cheques, which is so far unprecedented in the medical education field. Depositing post-dated cheques means, a student will have to pay full tuition fee for the five-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.

“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”.

“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.

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 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.

“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”, the minutes of the board meeting read.

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 centralised admissions to private colleges, and the candidates to deposit tuition fee in the online accounts.

The medical community has expressed strong reservations with regard to these recommendations.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2017