The most repeated criticism of Dr Govinda KC’s demands is why should one stop opening of medical colleges in Kathmandu when hundreds of students go abroad to study MBBS.
Everyone from Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli to the businessmen awaiting affiliation for medical colleges argue that new medical colleges should be opened to stop students going abroad to study medicine.
But the argument put forward against Dr KC is not supported by facts.
The number of students going abroad to study medicine is falling, and it is falling down even inside Nepal. A total of 2,091 students got admitted for MBBS and 505 for Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) inside Nepal in 2015 while 1,461 went abroad for MBBS and BDS.
This is the data that PM Oli and the businessmen provide to support their argument but that is just a half truth. It is the data for the year when those going abroad to study medicine did not have to pass entrance examination. Anyone who had money could go abroad to study if the foreign medical colleges accepted them. Most of those students were those who would fail entrance examinations in Nepal.
The situation is different now.
The number of students going abroad has fallen by a whopping 1,000 in 2016 once the Nepal Medical Council (NMC) implemented the rule requiring those students to pass entrance examinations in Nepal.
Just 478 students went abroad to study MBBS and BDS in 2016, according to NMC Chairman Dharma Kanta Baskota. The number for those inside Nepal in the year was around 2,500. The number of students going abroad has risen to just 495 even in 2017.
“Those who could not pass entrance exams apparently used to go abroad earlier. The number is falling once we made it mandatory to pass entrance examinations even to go abroad,” Baskota told Setopati.
Dean of the Institute of Medicine Dr Jagadish Agrawal said those who cannot get enrolled in medical colleges here and cannot pay the fees in lump sum go abroad. “Those who could not pass entrance examinations used to go abroad earlier. They now go abroad due to higher fees and tougher course here,” he pointed.
Promoters of medical colleges here in this way are also to blame for students going abroad as they charge exorbitant fees. Even those who are in the merit list after entrance examinations also are forced to go abroad due to the exorbitant fees. Many students have even moved the Supreme Court (SC) against the colleges that demand higher fees than that specified by the government.
Dr Agrawal refutes the argument that students are going abroad in lack of adequate medical colleges here and claims that many medical colleges here also do not have sufficient students. “There is scarcity of students for MBBS and BDS even inside Nepal,” he stated. “The medical colleges affiliated to the Tribhuvan University (TU) do not have adequate students. We could not get enough students for the allocated seats in this session. How can there be a surplus of students?” he argued.
He revealed that Janaki Medical College and National Medical College, both affiliated to TU, did not get adequate students. Janaki could admit just 46 Nepali students despite having 80 seats. The medical college is running this session without adequate students.
National also got just 45 Nepali students for 90 seats, and admitted Indians for the remaining seats. Many of those Indians have not even passed entrance examinations, according to him.
IOM annulled admission of foreign students done violating rules that require the medical colleges to admit Nepali students for at least 75 percent of the allocated seats, and even foreign students to pass entrance examinations.
National has moved the SC against the IOM decision hoping that the Apex Court will again rule in its favor as it had in the past when National and other medical colleges had admitted foreign students violating the rules.
Kathmandu University (KU), on the other hand, admits foreign students even without holding entrance examinations.
Students have to go abroad also as medical colleges take foreign students even in the seats allocated for Nepalis.
Many students who pass MBBS from abroad do fail NMC’s license examinations. NMC Chairman Baskota claimed that 80 percent of students who pass MBBS from abroad fail the license examinations.
“Those who have passed MBBS from abroad have failed license exams in up to 34 attempts,” he stated. “The quality of the colleges where the students go to study has a meaning.”
NMC is trying to stop allowing one to attempt for license so many times.
“One has to get license to practice after passing MBBS. We have submitted a draft law to the government setting a limit of 10 attempts.”