PESHAWAR: Pakistan Medical Commission has agreed to double seats in medical and dental colleges for students of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas subject to inspection of the colleges where the students would be accommodated.
On Tuesday, PMC held meeting with secretaries of health departments of all the provinces to discuss the issue of increasing seats for former Fata students in medical and dental colleges of the country.
Sources said that PMC was reluctant to double the seats in the current year as it had categorically informed before increasing seats last year that it would be one-time increase and the colleges would be required to update infrastructure to be able to enroll more students in future.
“A meeting has been convened at the office of health secretary on Wednesday that will be also attended by representatives of medical colleges,” they said. They added PMC had asked the secretaries to identify the colleges that could absorb more students.
Meeting being held today to identify colleges that can absorb more students
Sources said that Bacha Medical College, Bacha Khan Dental College, Khyber Girls Medical College (KGMC) and Swat Dental College had already requested Khyber Medical University that they wanted to increase seats.
The meeting will be attended by the representative of these colleges and they will update it about the position of seats and their capacity to enhance seats to accommodate the students from former Fata.
“However, admitting more former Fata students will be decided after inspection of these colleges by PMC representatives and subsequent recognition for additional seats,” said sources. They added that if PMC didn’t recognise the colleges for extra seats, then there would be no increase in the seats.
They said that additional admissions would be granted only in the colleges after their recognition by PMC. Last year, the commission, regulator of medical education in the country, allowed the colleges to induct 272 students, double of their allotted quota of 136 seats, as a one-time increase in the number of seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Also, the other provinces admitted 78 students instead of 38 to medical and dental colleges last year. The federal cabinet had approved a summary entitled “Quota of Fata students in education, health and other institutions should be doubled and retained for 10 years after re-integration with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” in 2017.
But PMC had allowed the colleges to implement the decision only for one year (2019-20) over and above the allotted quota. It had told the colleges to update the facilities to be able to enhance seats for 10 years.
“So far, the PMC is allowing 136 students on reserved quota but upon extreme political pressure from the ruling party parliamentarians from ex-Fata, the PMC has agreed on increasing seats but subject to inspection,” sources said.
Officials said that within two weeks, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government might request PMC to visit the colleges that wanted to admit extra students. They said that KGMC might continue to admit 50 former Fata students as it did last year. They added that provincial government allocated Rs500 million to it recently to improve infrastructure to accommodate more students.
The MNAs belonging to former Fata, under the leadership of Sajid Khan Mohmand, the chairman of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions, have been pursuing the issue for the past two months owing to which PMC finally asked the secretaries to update the facilities prior to admitting more students.
“PMC is right in arguing that it would deteriorate the standard of medical education if we keep admitting more students in colleges with the present infrastructure meant for less number of students,” said officials. They added that even last year, Khyber Medical College Peshawar and Ayub Medical College Abbottabad had refused to admit additional students because they both had 250 sanctioned seats and had no space for more students.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2021