With the recent hike in tuition fee for MBBS and BDS courses in various medical colleges, medical education in Punjab has become most expensive among north Indian states and the union territory of Chandigarh. The fee for the MBBS course in government medical colleges in the state is around 15 times higher than that in Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh.
From the 2014-15 session, MBBS students will pay Rs. 2.2 lakh for the first year as tuition fee in the general category in government medical colleges of Punjab. However, at GMCH, the tuition fee for the same course is just Rs. 14,624.
In Himachal Pradesh, the MBBS tuition fee is seven times less compared to Punjab. As per the MBBS/BDS admission prospectus (2014) of Himachal Pradesh University, students will have to pay Rs. 30,000 tuition fee per year; in Jammu and Kashmir, it is around Rs. 13,000 per year, and in Haryana, about Rs. 42,000 per year.
In March, on the recommendations of a committee constituted under Dr KK Talwar, the Punjab government had increased the fee for MBBS courses from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.2 lakh for the first year. In the subsequent four years, the fee will increase 10% every year. And it will become Rs. 3.22 lakh in the final year.
In Punjab, the fee hike has seen a steep rise in the past decade. The charges for the MBBS/BDS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery; and Bachelor of Dental Science) courses have become 17-fold since 2003, when the annual fee for government-quota seats in the state's private medical colleges was just Rs. 13,000. Now, students in the same category pay Rs. 2.2 lakh each. The first major increase came during the Congress regime of Capt Amarinder Singh in 2004, when the fee shot up six times. The fee for the management-quota seats was also increased. The Akali-BJP combine, which came to power in 2007, kept increasing the fee. The portfolio of medical education and research has remained mostly with the BJP, which is now in power at the Centre.
Every private medical and dental college in the state has 50% seats in the government quota, 35% in the management category, and 15% reserved for non-resident Indians (NRIs).
Private medical education in Punjab has got 100% costlier every year on an average in the past decade. Private medical colleges have been putting pressure on the government to increase the fee to Rs. 10 lakh annually. A proposal moved by them last year to the department of medical education and research said the annual fee should be Rs. 10.5 lakh. Students' parents and voluntary health organisations have already opposed the proposal, arguing that it will subvert merit.
Despite repeated attempts, Dr Tejbir Singh, director, medical education, Punjab, was not available for comment.
Annual fee (Rs)
Punjab 1.65 lakh 2.2 lakh
Chandigarh 1.01 lakh 14,624
Haryana 30,000 42,420
Himachal Pradesh 30,000 30,000
J&K 13,000 13,000