Private Medical Colleges move Union Health Ministry against NMC Fee order
New Delhi: Objecting to the National Medical Commission (NMC) fee order, the private medical colleges have now reached the Union Health Ministry seeking its intervention. In fact, the authorities are adamant to move to the court if the order is not withdrawn by NMC, the apex medical regulator in India.While the colleges have challenged the NMC order of fixing the fees for 50 per cent of...
New Delhi: Objecting to the National Medical Commission (NMC) fee order, the private medical colleges have now reached the Union Health Ministry seeking its intervention. In fact, the authorities are adamant to move to the court if the order is not withdrawn by NMC, the apex medical regulator in India.
While the colleges have challenged the NMC order of fixing the fees for 50 per cent of private medical colleges, a senior official in the medical education section of the Union Health Ministry told Money Control that the Ministry has not asked NMC to rethink its guidelines yet.
"But the (private) colleges look set to challenge the guidelines legally," he added.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that NMC, the apex medical education regulatory body had clarified recently that the fees of 50 per cent seats in the private medical colleges would be at par with government medical colleges of that particular State/UT.
"After extensive consultations, it has been decided that the fee of the 50 per cent seats in the private medical colleges and deemed universities should be at par with the fee in the government medical colleges of that particular State and UT. The benefit of this fee structure would be first made available to those candidates who have availed government quota seats, but are limited to the extent of 50 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of the respective medical college/deemed university," NMC had mentioned in the notification.
"However, if the government quota seats are less than 50 per cent of total sanctioned seats, the remaining candidates would avail the benefit of a fee equivalent to the government medical college fees, based purely on the merit," it added.
Even though the purpose for bringing such regulation was to make medical education at private institutes affordable in India, several private medical colleges did not accept the same and they were upset over this whole scenario.
Now, the management of the private medical colleges have reached the Union Health Ministry for relief and they are ready to move to court as well if NMC does not withdraw its diktat.
As per the recent data provided by the MoS Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, there are a total number of 596 medical colleges in India with an intake capacity for 89,875 MBBS seats. Among these 596 medical institutes, 313 medical colleges with 46,560 MBBS seats are run by the Government and 283 medical institutes with 43,315 MBBS seats are run by private management.
The data further revealed that the major number of private medical colleges are in States including Andhra Pradesh (18), Karnataka (41), Kerala (21), Maharashtra (31), Tamil Nadu (32), Telangana (23), and Uttar Pradesh (32). In all those medical colleges, the fee varies and it ranges between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh per year. Therefore, in order to pursue medical education in private medical institutes, the students might need to pay a total amount ranging from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1.25 crores.
On the other hand, the government medical colleges provide education at a minimal fees ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh on yearly basis. So, if the NMC rule gets implemented for the 50 per cent of private medical college seats, the students getting admission in those 50 percent seats will be liable to pay such a minimal amount on their education. While this sounds promising for the medical aspirants, who choose to leave India and move abroad for cheaper medical education, such a rule does not take into account the plights of the private medical college management paying lakhs and crores of money in building the infrastructure.
Referring to this issue, the principal of a Telangana based private medical college told Money Control, "Apart from setting up a medical college which costs nearly Rs 200-300 crore, we pay upwards of Rs 3 crore to teaching faculty every month—how are we going to survive if we are not allowed to generate revenue through fees?"
The head of another Maharashtra based medical college also expressed similar opinions on the matter and pointed out that it is possible for the government to charge lower fees as they are heavily subsidized by the government. He also referred to an analysis conducted by the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI), which had shown that the top government medical colleges in India spend around Rs 1 crore on producing a doctor.
"They do not have to worry about paying salaries to the faculty or day-to-day maintenance of the college and the teaching hospital," he argued.
Meanwhile, while the members of the medical fraternity have welcomed the move by NMC, they have also expressed concern over its scopes of realization as this would put the management of the private medical colleges at a tough spot.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues regarding the issue, the former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr. J. A. Jayalal opined in favour of a PPP model and said, "When the Government is fixing the fees they should consider who is funding these institutes. When the entire infrastructure has to be made by a private party they should have the liberty to fix the fees. However, the private authorities should fix a reasonable price. At the same time, the private medical colleges are spending so much of money in building the infrastructure. So before fixing the fees, the cost effective analysis should be done."
Referring to the need for increased budget allocation, he added, "It is the responsibility of the Government to provide the education to the people and for this, the Government should make efforts for establishing medical colleges on its own. Even though increased budget allocation is required for this purpose, unfortunately the Government is giving only 1.5 per cent of the GDP as the budget allocation and with this it is not possible."
"One of the models that the Government itself has started in Gujarat is a Society model is effective as they are only charging Rs 4 lakh from the students and that is a reasonable amount. Similarly, the Government can think about a joint venture in the form of a Public Private Partnership to establish the medical education further, rather than putting a blanket and fixing the fees for 50 per cent of seats at Private institutes," he opined.
Similar opinions have been expressed by Dr. Rohan Krishnan, the president of FAIMA doctors association. Dr. Krishnan told Medical Dialogues, "Before forming any policy, apart from the issue of public welfare, the policymakers should take into account that the policy is not harming the initial aim and resulting in the closing down of medical colleges. Even though the move is welcoming, it seems like a beautiful dream. In order to make that dream into reality, the Government needs to do something for the private medical colleges as well. They need to think of giving financial aid or any other kind of support the huge expenditure of the private medical colleges."
Advocating for the PPP model, he added, "Public Private Partnership in medical education should be promoted and it has to be promoted in such a way that the government provides some aid because the policy should be accepted by both the parties. Otherwise such policies will stand still in court. So, what the country needs is a policy which will be not an injustice to anyone."
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at email@example.com.