Islamabad-The students seeking admissions in private medical and dental colleges have expressed concern over non-implementation of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council policy 2016.

The private institutions providing medical and dental education are celebrating the Lahore High Court (LHC)’s verdict as their victory against the PM&DC, but the students and parents have come up with reservations that the decision will result in fee hike by the private medical education institutions.

“The tussle between PM&DC and private medical institutions has troubled the students,” said Zainab Mustaq, a third year MBBS student in Islamic International Medical College.

She said that students already have to pay hefty fees annually in private medical institutions and the possibility of a fee increase is a terrifying prospect.

Earlier, the institutions had convinced the government to increase the fee which was recently reversed by PM&DC providing sigh of relief to students and their parents.

Lahore High Court (LHC) recently announced a verdict against PMDC declaring the composition of the council and admission policy 2016 null and void.  The court was reached by private Medical Colleges Institutions Association (PAMI).

The court allowed PAMI to take admissions in the college and directed PMDC to hold new elections of the council in three months as the previous council tenure was concluded in 2015.

PMDC and PAMI had remained at logger heads for years regarding increase of annual fees in the institutions.

Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination (NHSR&C) intervening in the issue broke the deal between council and PAMI allowing them to increase the fee up to Rs800000 from 6420000.

However, after the non-approval from the federal cabinet, PM&DC reversed the decision on violation of rules and regulations by the private medical and dental institutions.

There are nearly 70 private medical and dental colleges in the country with 38 in Punjab, 15 in Sindh, 10 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and one each in Balochistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK).  As per PM&DC policy 2016, the annual tuition fee per student in private medical and dental institution, excluding university examination fee, taxes, hostel fee and transport was recommended not to exceed Rs642000, out of which the admission fee was Rs50000 while prospectus cost Rs3000.

Meanwhile, private medical institutions were also accused of collecting heavy donations from the students applying on foreign seats.

An official at PM&DC on condition of anonymity told The Nation that the court orders have halted the council affairs on policy matters and are looking into legal matters to continue its work.

“Whenever, the private medical institutions are brought under regulation, obstacles are created by unseen hands,” he said.

The official also added that PMDC had started implementing the 2016 admission policy strictly but now its hands were tied after the court decision.

Meanwhile, public sector medical institutions are providing education at almost 70percent less than private medical institutes.

A number of parents and students also publicly pleaded the Supreme Court to keep the private medical and dental colleges from overcharging.

Sajid Khan, a student’s father complained that private medical institutions in the country are already expensive and uncertain polices put extra burden on parents.

“There must be one and affordable policy for students instead of commercialization of medical education,” he said.

Secretary General PAMI Khaqan Waheed Khawaja said that PM&DC was being ruled by an illegal regime since 2015 and the court decision will provide relief to colleges and students.

He said that 2016 PM&DC was not prepared with the consultations of real stake holders in private sector of medical education. Commenting on the heavy fee structure in the institutions he said “Medical education has become a luxury and low income people cannot afford it in private sector”.

He said that annual expenditure on single graduate in India is Rs180000, at Agha Khan University it is 230000 and in government institution, it is Rs190000 on one graduate.

He said that compared to the figures, a private medical college charges much lower fee.

He added that 15percent seats are reserved for foreign qualified students with more than 550 marks and the colleges are told not to increase the number of seats.

President PM&DC Prof Dr. Shabir Lehri, said that PM&DC had initiated crackdown against private medical colleges involved in collecting heavy donations to provide relief to the students.

“Though medical education is a luxury there is a difference between luxury and corruption,” he said.

President PM&DC added that colleges are bound to collect the fee as introduced in 2016 admission policy.

“The council will likely challenge LHC court in Supreme Court (SC),” he added.