The Punjab cabinet may have taken a decision to increase the MBBS seats at the Amritsar Government Medical College (AGMC) and the Rajindra Medical College, Patiala, from the existing 150 to 250 each from the next academic session, but the moot question remains whether the government will make funds available for upgrading the infrastructure at the two institutions.
The decision of the cabinet has been taken as the central government, on the recommendations of the Indian Medical Council (IMC), had taken a decision last year to increase the number of MBBS seats in certain selected government medical colleges of the country. The medical colleges at Amritsar and Patiala were among those chosen from Punjab.
In fact, the increase in seats in the two colleges was to take place from the 2011-12 academic session, but could not take place as the state government failed to provide the requisite funds for upgrading the existing infrastructure.
Talking to HT on Saturday, AGMC principal Prof SS Shergill said, "We are ready for the 100-seat increase but for this we will require funds from the state government for upgrading the infrastructure."
After the cabinet announcement, Prof Shergill is busy preparing a proposal which he will submit to the principal secretary, medical education next week. Though the principal refused to divulge the details of the proposal, but the demand for funds could be anywhere between Rs. 80 crore to Rs. 100 crore for upgrading the existing infrastructure. In the proposal submitted in April 2011, he had made a demand of Rs. 65 crore but that was more than a year back.
Bigger and more lecture theatres
The lecture theatres at AGMC currently have a seating capacity of around 170. With the strength going up, these theatres will not be able to accommodate 250 students, at least in the MBBS first year course. AGMC is one of the oldest medical colleges in the country and its theatres were designed for seating 150-170 students.
The AGMC will require at least six new lecture theatres with seating capacity of around 300 students besides a new auditorium with a capacity of around 2,000 plus. The existing threatres can then be used for delivering lectures to students of postgraduate courses.
Besides the medical college will also need funds for upgrading its libraries as well the laboratories as per the MCI norms. New laboratories may also be required to be built in certain departments.
In the proposal, Prof Shergill is also laying emphases on creating additional teaching posts and also the need to have additional auxiliary staff. Besides, additional hostels will have to be built both for boys and girls.
"We will need more teachers to keep up to the student-teacher ratio as per MCI norms. We already have vacant teaching posts but have never let the teaching work suffer. More important is the recruitment of the auxiliary staff as for a very long time we have not filled up the posts of clerks, staff nurses and even the laboratory and technical staff," said Prof Shergill.
Increase in seats will hit private medical colleges
The AGMC faculty has welcomed the cabinet decision to increase the MBBS seats. They felt that this increase is bound to hit the private medical colleges. The preference of the students has always been the government run medical colleges as the private colleges have a very high fee structure and moreover the teaching faculty at AGMC is one of the best in Punjab.