Contrary to the government’s recent decision to stop new affiliations to medical colleges, the parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, Elderly Citizens and Social Welfare directed the Ministry of Education to allow the medical and engineering colleges that have acquired the Letter of Intent (LoI) to operate.
A meeting of the committee on Sunday decided to ask the ministry to permit the operation of all the colleges having the LoI. Any college that wants to impart medical or engineering education should obtain the LoI from the ministry first. Affiliations are granted from respective universities after they set up the infrastructure required for a specified programme. There are four colleges at present that have acquired the LoIs.
Following threat from Dr Govinda KC—who has staged hunger strikes against malpractices in medical education—last month, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers on November 11 asked the Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine (IoM) not to grant affiliations until there is a policy for medical education in place.
The committee reasons that it is essential to establish new medical and engineering colleges in order to check capital flight in the name of medical and engineering degrees abroad. It has also argued that new colleges are necessary for developing technical expertise in the country.
Ganesh Man Gurung, CPN-UML lawmaker who coordinates the Education subcommittee under the parliamentary committee, said it is “injustice” to bar affiliations to colleges that have invested millions of rupees in infrastructure after getting the LoI.
“It’s not fair to stop classes after granting the LoI. Our directive intends to solve the outstanding problem,” said Gurung, who is a former chairman of the University Grants Commission. He is for a strict monitoring mechanism to curb the irregularities.
According to a lawmaker, the directives resulted from intense pressure from UML lawmakers including Rajendra Pandey and Bansidhar Mishra who have invested in the Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences.
In the committee meeting on Sunday, Pandey and Mishra presented themselves aggressively against the halt in affiliations. They claimed that their college could
not be affiliated to the IoM despite meeting all the requirements because of Dr KC who believes that there is no need for new medical colleges at present.
Apart from Manmohan, National Medical College, Ghattekulo--an extension of the Birgunj-based National Medical College promoted by UCPN-Maoist supporter Basaruddhin Ansari, Peoples Dental College and Nepal Police Medical College have been awaiting affiliations to run the MBBS programme.
“It’s illogical to stop affiliations just because of the protest of an individual,” said Ranju Kumari Jha, chairperson of the House committee. “The government should be guided by the rules.”
IoM officials, however, say they are not in a position to grant new affiliations at the moment.
Dr Bimal Sinha, assistant dean at the IoM, said the affiliation decision is complex and they do not want to be part of the “political gambling”. “But we will decide after an experts’ committee presents its recommendations.”
The Education Ministry formed a nine-member committee last month under former TU Vice-chancellor Kedar Bhakta Mathema to draft a policy to guide the medical education sector.