“Government fees in private medical schools are counterproductive”

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A RECENT government order asking private medical schools to offer 50% of their places at rates equivalent to those prevailing in government colleges could be counterproductive and lead to a massive increase in fees for the other half of the places, Maharashtra’s largest association of private doctors and dental colleges argued.

The Association of Managements of Unaided Private Medical and Dental Colleges (AMUPMDC) said the move could even force several colleges to close. “It will significantly increase the fee structure for the other half of students, and students are unlikely to accept paying such high fees. So if the government does not offer us support, there was this probability that several colleges would close,” Dr. Ashish Deshmukh, Secretary of AMUPMDC, told The Indian Express.

The National Medical Commission, the regulatory body for medical education in the country, had in a recent notification ordered that at least 50% of seats in private medical schools should only charge the fees applicable in the public colleges. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a “major decision” for students from poor and middle-income households.

However, Deshmukh argued that this could be counterproductive and that he had already flagged the issue during a meeting with Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya two weeks ago.

“This will lead to a large increase in the fee structure. Do we have the capacity to pay the overall cost (increase) of medical education in the country? This issue needs to be addressed by NMC and a policy needs to be put in place,” he said. But the Indian Medical Association hailed the government’s decision.

“Private medical schools with expensive fee structures have made medical education impossible and unaffordable for deserving poor students. Limited medical places in government colleges and skyrocketing fees in private colleges are the situation in the country. These facts compel students to go abroad for medical education. The ongoing evacuation process of Indian medical students from war-torn Ukraine has revealed these facts,” Mangesh Pate, secretary of the Maharashtra branch of the IMA said in a statement.

Dr Pravin Shingare, former director of medical education and research in Maharashtra, pointed out that the government’s decision would result in one student paying the cost of the other.

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