ISLAMABAD: While abolishing quota for foreign students for the first time in the country’s history, the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) has made it mandatory for overseas Pakistanis and foreign students to clear Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) to get admission in Pakistan.
Private colleges have been allowed to have fee structures for foreigners different from that for Pakistani students. Moreover, the provinces can fix a quota for foreign students for admission to their public sector colleges.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), representative body of doctors, expressed concern over the decision and said the decision would close the doors of medical education on local students.
However, the Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI) believes that majority of local students would be admitted as the decision of the PMC to declare MDCAT mandatory will compel foreign students to look for options in other countries.
According to a notification issued by the PMC, foreign students have been divided into two categories i.e. Pakistani students [overseas Pakistanis] and foreign students.
“There are no quotas for foreign students. All foreign students will compete on a national merit for admission into private colleges. Each province may set up a quota for foreign students for admission to their public colleges, if they so desire. Private colleges may have a fee structure for foreign students different to Pakistani students, with a lower fee charged for Pakistani students,” says the notification.
According to the notification, foreign students are those who are foreign nationals and do not hold Pakistani nationality and have obtained their Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC), 12th grade examination or equivalent from outside Pakistan. Pakistani students are those who are non-resident or non-resident dual national having obtained their HSSC examination or equivalent from outside Pakistan.
“A foreign student may apply for preparation of merit to a private college on the basis of having taken the MDCAT result or SAT II (Scholastic Aptitude Test) results in Biology, Chemistry and Physics/Maths. The ratio given to each score for calculating cumulative score equivalence to MDCAT shall be Biology 40pc, Chemistry 30pc, Physics/Maths 20pc. English is exempted if the students have obtained their HSSC qualification from a programme taught primarily in English,” the notification states.
Moreover this year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, students of both categories have been exempted from MDCAT and only SAT II will be considered for their admissions. Foreign students who elect to come to Pakistan and take the MDCAT on Nov 15, 2020, will not lose their status as foreign student for purposes of applying for admissions. A foreign student will after having taken the MDCAT still retain the right to either select their MDCAT score or their SAT II scores at the time of applying for admissions to private college, says the notification.
PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad, while talking to Dawn, said that because of the new policy local students would be deprived of their rights as colleges have been allowed to charge more fees from foreign students.
“Our local students will not be able to get admissions, on the other hand foreign students will leave the country after graduation, so Pakistan will face deficiency of doctors in future. I suggest that tax should be imposed on foreign students as initially there will be just a few foreign students but with the passage of time number will increase as they will know that it is easy to do graduation from private colleges,” he said.
PMC Vice President Ali Raza could not be contacted for comment. However, a member of the commission, requesting anonymity, said that it would be beneficial for Pakistan to encourage foreign students.
“In the West, annual fee of a medical graduate is $60,000. We will get a large number of students if we offer them $12,000 per year,” he said.
Some of the medical colleges had admitted more students than their quota, so it has been decided to register those students and in future such things will not be tolerated, he said.
“I believe that there should be schools/colleges which do not earn profit so that the quality education is given to the masses, but medical education has become a business in Pakistan,” he said.
PAMI General Secretary Riaz Janjua told Dawn that during last meeting with the PMC it was decided that all students will have to clear National Licensing Exam after completion of course.
“Earlier there was 15 per cent quota for foreign students and we used to get 3pc to 4pc but now it has been decided that foreign students will also have to clear MDCAT. I fear that we will hardly get students. However, a good thing is that students will have to pay fee in foreign currency so the country will be benefited,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2020