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Vishav Bharti, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, July 16, 2013
Owners of private medical colleges in Punjab have asked the state government to increase the annual fee for the MBBS course as high as Rs. 10 lakh. At present, the fee for MBBS as well as BDS seats is Rs. 1.5 lakh per year.

According to sources in the state's department of medical education and research, the strong lobby of owners of private colleges in the state had been putting pressure on the state government to increase the fee for MBBS and BDS courses.

In the name of 'rationalisation' of fee structure, the department constituted a committee last month and asked all private medical and dental colleges to give suggestions "so that the proposal regarding the fee hike could be taken forward," a communication of the department read.

A top official of the department, wishing not to be named, said, "The colleges' suggestions were aimed at turning education into a commodity. Those who have money can buy it from these 'shops', while others can go to hell."

Among these colleges, Chintpurni Medical College and Hospital, Pathankot, asked the government to increase the fee for each government seat (commonly called free seat) from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 10.5 lakh from the upcoming session.

The raised fee recommended by Dayanand Medical College (DMC), Ludhiana, and Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Bathinda, was Rs. 8.20 lakh and Rs. 7.5 lakh, respectively. These colleges also sought a similar fee for management quota seats. Sri Guru Ram Das Medical College, Amritsar, asked the government to raise the fee for the free seat to Rs. 2.5 lakh and Rs. 6 lakh for each management quota seat.

For BDS courses, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences and Research, Amritsar, has suggested to raise the fee to Rs. Rs 3.36 lakh, Punjab Unaided Private Medical and Dental Colleges' Association (Rs 3.25 lakh) and Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences, Faridkot (Rs 2.85 lakh).

At present, every private medical and dental college in the state fills 50% seats under the government quota, 35% under the management quota and 15% seats are reserved for non-resident Indians (NRIs). If NRI seats remained vacant, these are converted into management quota seats. Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, conducts counselling for seats in all three categories.

When contacted, Dr Kamal Baghi, president, Punjab Unaided Private Medical and Dental Colleges' Association, said the fee structure in Punjab was the lowest in the country. "The cost of education of MBBS and BDS students is quite high. We have demanded fee structure on a par with that of adjoining states," he said.

Vini Mahajan, principal secretary, health, and principal secretary, department of medical education and research, didn't take calls when HT tried to contact her.

In 2010, the state government had increased the fee for various medical and dental courses. Then, it was raised to Rs. 1.5 lakh for candidates getting the free seat on merit and Rs. 4 lakh each in the management quota. For BDS, it was fixed at Rs. 1.5 lakh for free seats as well as management seats.