The government's effort to resolve the perennial problems in admissions to professional courses has hit a stumbling block. With managements of private self-financing medical and engineering colleges toughening their stance, the hopes of an amicable settlement to the vexed issues of seat-sharing and fee for the new academic year seem more distant.
There is no clarity yet on the admission to MBBS courses in self-financing colleges. The Kerala Private Medical College Managements' Association seems to be on a collision course with the government especially after the Cabinet sub-committee for self-financing professional colleges agreed to maintain the status quo in admission to the four colleges affiliated to the Kerala Christian Professional College Managements' Federation.
As per the agreement reached between the sub-committee and representatives of the federation, the colleges will follow its 2010 admission norms for MBBS courses this year also. The talks would continue aimed at finding a comprehensive formula by next year. K. M. Mani, Minister for Finance, who led the talks, said that a new formula would be implemented for admission process from the coming academic year. All stakeholders can submit their suggestions till the first week of August in this regard, he said. But the association of medical managements is not happy about the deal struck between the federation and the government. Stating that the federation had misled the government about the date for admission to the MBBS seats, Fazal Gafoor, president of both the association and the Muslim Educational Society, said that the prospectus of colleges under the Kerala Christian Professional College Managements' Federation had “misleadingly” given the date for the completion of the admission procedure as June 21 while the Medical Council of India allowed it time till September.
Dr. Gafoor said that the association colleges will desist from signing an agreement with the government for sharing of seats in the government and management quotas, if the Inter-Church Council is allowed to have its way in the admission process. The association will review the decision, if the proposed formula for next year's admission to the four Christian medical colleges comes out by August this year. But the formula should be acceptable to the association, he added.
While the seat-sharing formula is pending, the fee issue also remains unsolved, with both the federation and the association submitting different proposals before the government. In their fee proposals submitted to the government, both the Kerala Private Medical College Management Association and the Kerala Christian Professional College Managements Federation have stressed that scholarships, if any, will be the primary responsibility of the government. The proposal noted that reservation norms in 50 per cent government seats for the MBBS course will be the same as in aided colleges.
From the 50 per cent seats given to the government 30 per cent (15 seats) will be for the community which the management represents. The government should ensure a parallel system of allotment to its 50 per cent seats along with the allotments done by the managements to their seats. There should be a separate ‘common rank list' of candidates who seek admission to the Federation's colleges through the government. The government's allotment should be completed by June 30 or at least by July 7. It should also provide scholarship only to students admitted in government seats. There should be an arrangement between the government and the student on scholarship. The student when admitted should pay the full fees to the college. This could be managed by issuing scholarship vouchers (encashable) by the government to the students depending on their financial background.
The beneficiaries of such scholarships should execute a bond to serve the government for two to three years. Member colleges are prepared to meet the expenses of poor / BPL students subject to a maximum of 10 students per college. Alternatively, if the government establishes a scholarship fund the managements are willing to pay 50 per cent of the fees to this fund. This will amount to Rs.20 lakh per college in a year. The government should also appeal to corporate houses to contribute to this fund. Admissions will only be on the basis of inter-se merit and there will be no reservation based on poverty.
The association's proposal calls for a common entrance test for admissions to management seats. The government should facilitate prior approval for the test and the extension of the admission deadline to July 15. Though the fee for this year will be Rs.3.5 lakh for all seats, it will rise to the Rs.5.25 lakh-Rs.6.5 lakh range subsequently.
Alternatively, the government can opt for the ‘Karnataka model' wherein the seats will be split 75:25 and 60:40 — in favour of the managements — in minority and non-minority institutions, respectively. The fee for government seats will be Rs.70, 000. While 15 per cent of the seats will form the NRI quota, 10 per cent will be ‘privilege seats' for managements to fill, the proposal reads. Pointing out that the government is unable to cut the Gordian's knot of growing issues in the self-financing sector for want of a clear policy, P. G. R. Pillai, Dean of Medical Science and Technology, Cochin University of Science and Technology, said that the government had failed to prescribe specific conditions while giving the no-objection certificates to the managements leading to the present confusion.
Explaining that a solution on the fee issue could be arrived, if the managements and the government agree to adopt a ‘transparent and reasonable' stance, Dr. Pillai said that the fee collected from the students should help the managements in meeting their expenses. It would be ideal, if the managements decide to reduce the annual tuition fee from the proposed Rs. 3.5 lakh, he said.
The admission to the engineering seats is also hanging fire. Fears of the process getting entangled in courtroom battles seem to be translating into reality, with the Kerala High Court issuing an order on June 16 that all further proceedings initiated on the basis of the new method of selection of candidates for engineering course admissions would be subject to the outcome of a writ petition challenging the selection method.
Reacting to the deadlock over the admission to the engineering seats, G. P. C. Nayar, national president of the Federation of Associations of Private Unaided Professional Colleges, said that the government has not yet invited them for any talks. If the confusion prevails, the association will go ahead and admit students in the 100 per cent seats, he said. Mr. Nayar said that the managements will not sign an agreement with the government, as they did last year if there is no immediate solution to the fee and seat sharing issues. More than 10,000 students had already approached engineering colleges outside the State for admission in view of the confusion remaining here.
The managements cannot afford to keep the seats vacant considering the huge loss that they would be forced to incur in such a situation, he said. The association has demanded an increase of Rs.25, 000 in each seat allotted to the government in view of the increasing expenditure for purchase of consumable items in engineering colleges. Otherwise, the government should hike the fee for seats under the government quota from Rs.35, 000 to Rs.60, 000, Mr. Nayar said.
Self-Financing Engineering Colleges Association has decided to wait for a few more days before announcing their final decision on this year's admission process.