The controversy over admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in self-financing medical colleges stems from a lack of understanding about the real issue, said Abraham Mulamoottil, chairman of the Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, Thiruvalla.
“We are ready to share with the government 50 per cent of the seats allotted for MBBS, postgraduate medical courses as well as various other professional courses, provided the State bears the additional financial burden towards fees of students admitted in the government quota,” said Fr Mulamoottil.
According to him, the issue was purely a financial one that deserved prime consideration as it involved heavy investment. But, the government as well as the people seemed to have taken it as a political issue, disregarding the circumstances that prompted the State to permit self-financing professional colleges on a wider scale way back in 2001, he said.
Talking to The Hindu, Fr Mulamoottil said running a medical college by strictly adhering to the norms and guidelines prescribed by the Medical Council of India required heavy financial investment. The Metropolitan Archdiocese of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church set up the medical college not to make money, but as part of its social commitment to the Church members as well as society, he added.
Though the actual cost of education for the MBBS course at our college, as submitted through an affidavit before the Fee Regulatory Committee, is Rs. 4.32 lakh for every student, the college has accepted the Kerala High Court directive to fix the annual fee for MBBS course at Rs.3.5 lakh.
Fr Mulamootil said there were 17 self-financing medical colleges in the State and sharing 50 per cent MBBS seats at these colleges with the government would mean an addition of 850 seats to the government quota. The government is getting 850 more MBBS seats solely on account of issuing a no-objection certificate and that too with out making any investment at all, he adds.
He said the self-financing medical colleges would not object to allotting 50 per cent of medical seats to the government, provided the government remitted Rs. 29.75 crore every year towards the annual tuition fee. The government would have to pay Rs.148.75 crore towards tuition fee of 850 students for five years. The State should make the payment through a voucher system, he added.
It is also a fact that the government would have to make similar remittances for various other courses too in the self-financing mode, making it a heavy financial burden on the State in the course of time, Fr Mulamoottil said.
According to him, the government can explore the possibility of helping out the students through scholarship schemes, interest-free loans or mobilising a welfare fund for higher education. What was needed is a pragmatic and realistic approach to resolve the imbroglio prevailing in the State's self-financing medical education sector, he said.