MBBS education: Colleges, preparation centres do brisk business in tandem


Manish Gautam

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Medical entrance preparation centres celebrate their success each year with newspaper advertisements and billboards plastered with the photos of students who find placement in medical colleges. These stories go a long way toward hyping the quality of tutorial services provided by the institutes.

But the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority thinks many of these achievements by their students may in fact be tainted. The CIAA on Sunday raided two popular coaching centres in the Capital—NAME and Orbit Medical Entrance Preparation—as part of its drive to root out rogue institutes. The officials seized documents and computers from their premises and also the Baneshwor residence of Nabin Sharma, a NAME owner, where they found a bond paper. Officials suspect that the paper could have been signed between the entrance preparation centre and clients who had been assured of question papers prior to the exams.

According to those involved in the medical education industry, the rot in the system is widespread and also goes deep. While the CIAA has started a full-fledged probe into the market for leaked questions, there also seems to be a nexus between medical colleges and the tutorial institutes.

CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki said at a function on Tuesday that they were investigating the MBBS entrance scam with high priority. The Biratnagar-based Nobel Medical College is a case in point. This college runs its own medical entrance preparation centre, Vibrant, at New Plaza, Putalisadak with funding by Dr Sunil Sharma, owner of the college. College officials boast that many students admitted to Nobel come from Vibrant.

Interestingly, Dr Sharma, who is a good friend of Dr V Natraj Prasad, director of the College of Medical Sciences, Bharatpur, has used the Vibrant platform for other benefits too. Sources say many students are referred to the college in Bharatpur. Those who wish to study dental science are sent to People’s Dental College, Nayabazaar, which is owned by Dr Sharma.

There is a prerequisite though. Each student willing to study medical courses should mandatorily pass the entrance examination conducted by Tribuvan University and Kathmandu University. Since almost all the students attend the preparation classes, there are two benefits for the institutes.

First, if they score high marks, the institutes cash on the names of successful students to attract others. Second, if students pass the entrance test but cannot make it to better institutes such as the Institute of Medicine and Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences, they may be referred to a college of their interest.

Orbit Institute is owned by Sunil Regmi, a promoter of Birat Medical College, Biratnagar. Regmi proudly claims that he also looks after the admission process and administrative activities of medical colleges including Birat and Devdaha. The two are new on the list of medical schools to get affiliation from Kathmandu University.

“My target groups are the people who have a lot of money and are willing to spend on their children’s medical education,” Regmi told the Post. “We are just doing our job. There is nothing wrong in referring students to the college of one’s interest. It’s up to the students to be enrolled in the college of our choice.”

According to Regmi, many times medical colleges offer hefty commission to entrance preparation centres for sending students to them. “We have our own bargaining point. No medical college wants to leave their seat unoccupied which is worth Rs 4 million each. This is where we play,” said Regmi.

Among the total 23, there are eight medical colleges affiliated to TU, including the prestigious IoM, and 10 colleges that offer MBBS courses from KU. The remaining five are dental colleges.

Sharma of NAME, however, has a different view. He said the CIAA is just trying to act smart although he has nothing to comment on the issues under investigation. He denies NAME’s involvement in forging deals with any medical college although he believes there are many anomalies going around.

A medical college owner requesting anonymity said if they do not appease these institutes, there are chances that they might talk against the college in a way to negatively impact the admission process.

There are around 2,500 MBBS seats in total while around 9,000 students join the three preparation centres. Each student is charged Rs10,000 on an average for the preparation course.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 10 December 2014