LAHORE, May 10: A number of female medical students staged a sit-in outside the office of Allama Iqbal Medical College principal for two hours or so to protest lack of hostel facility.
The girls occupied waiting lounge of the principal office, entrance and the parking lot reserved for the senior faculty of the college to draw attention of the authorities concerned towards their demand for accommodation facilities.
Some 226 female students of MBBS Part-I and Part-II were facing an acute shortage of hostel accommodation, a source said.
He said at least six girls were sharing a room having capacity of two to three students particularly in the hot weather. The frequent and unscheduled hours-long loadshedding had intensified their miseries.
Most of the protesting students belonged to far-flung districts like Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Multan, Layyah, Mianwali.
The source said the accommodation problem started arising since the quota system for admissions to the public sector medical colleges was replaced by open merit system and subsequently girl students outnumbered boys in the medical profession.
According to the previous system, male students made up of 90 per cent of admissions and the female 10 per cent.
Particularly, the trend of female students to join the medical profession increased sharply some three to four years ago owing to availability of equal opportunities, he said.
However, the accommodation situation started aggravating for female students when the Punjab government had increased 425 seats in the existing medical colleges in 2010 but constructed no new hostels for them.
Likewise, no new hostel had been established for girls for the last five years or so despite the fact that the institute turned into female dominated with a ratio of 70 per cent girls and 30 per cent boys.
After the induction of new batch of 117 first-year MBBS female students in November 2011 at AIMC, its administration had promised to create accommodation facilities for them but to no avail so far.
The source said the gravity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that at present 226 female students were staying in hostels having capacity of only 112.
Prof Dr Javed Akram said 68 per cent of the total admitted medical students were female. He said the institution had taken up the matter of shortage of accommodation facility during the visit of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani a couple of years ago.
He said the PM had announced a grant of Rs30 million at that time for establishing new hostels but the institution was yet to get the amount.
Meanwhile, he said the institution prepared a PC-I and forwarded the same to the health department containing an estimated cost of Rs30 million for the construction of new hostel for the affected female students which was yet to be approved.
To a question, Prof Javed said the issue would be again taken up during the visit of the chief minister who was due to address the convocation of AIMC this month.