The National Medical Commission (NMC) has directed all deemed universities to comply with the new guidelines on reducing fee for half of the total approved seats in private medical colleges from the current session. The medical education regulator wrote a letter to this effect to all deemed universities on July 20, The Indian Express has learnt.
The Prime Minister in March had announced that the fee for half the sanctioned seats in private medical colleges will be reduced to match the fee in government colleges. This will essentially mean that the government rate will be applicable on 75% of the 92,000 MBBS seats that will be offered for the 2022-23 session.
“The fee regulation guidelines are mandatory as per NMC Act-2019 and will be applicable for students who will be admitted through NEET-UG 2022 and NEET-PG 2022,” reads the NMC communication to the deemed universities.
With admissions for the session only months away, the private colleges that The Indian Express spoke to said there is no clarity on how the decision should be implemented and that the new guidelines, in all likelihood, will be challenged by private universities in the court.
The universities claim that in the absence of any subsidy, the move will just make the remaining half of the private seats unaffordable.
Sources in the NMC said the guidelines were to be implemented by all private medical colleges and action will be taken on receiving complaints from prospective students.
NMC guidelines released in February say no capitation fee can be charged by the colleges and fee will be determined on a “not-for-profit” basis. Operating cost will be calculated on basis of audit report from last fiscal (for past three years at the moment due to the pandemic). For a new college, fee structure calculation will be ad hoc based on audit of most recently established medical college in state.
“The cost of medical education is very high – it is inclusive of the cost of running a hospital without compromising the quality. Symbiosis offers the course at one of the lowest fee – Rs10 lakh per year. For self-financed institutes, the fee is the only source of revenue, so if you reduce the cost for 50% of the seats, the other half will have to bear the brunt,” said Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, pro-chancellor of Symbiosis International University, Noida.
She said that they are now meeting experts and trying to work out the costs.
Deemed universities like Symbiosis usually do not have government oversight on the fee structure, but fee for those like Madhubani Medical College in Bihar is already regulated by the state fee regulatory committee based on their expenditure audits.
Dr Rajeev Ranjan, Principal of Madhubani Medical College, said, “Our fee is already fixed by the regulatory committee. It is decided on cost basis – the cost divided by the number of students. That does not leave scope for reducing the fee for 50% of the seats to the level of government colleges. If we have to, the government will have to step in and provide some subsidy. Or, we will have to ask for increasing the fee for the other 50% of the seats.”
Another head of a private medical with 700-bed hospital said, “There is no clarity on implementation of the guidelines, especially for deemed universities. We have sought more clarity from the government.”
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Although some state fee regulatory committees regulated the fee in select private medical colleges even before the guidelines came, the norms were never uniform.
Even then, the regulated fee was higher than what a government medical college charges, which may vary from a few thousand rupees a year to a few lakh rupees.