Medical colleges charging high fees may soon face government action

2019-04-29

The Kathmandu Post


KATHMANDU, The Education and Health Sub-committee of Parliament will begin taking necessary steps to initiate action against the medical colleges found charging extra fees once they complete studying all the reports and complaints received from concerned stakeholders.

Gandaki Medical College in Pokhara has not returned the extra amount to its students, as directed by the Education Ministry. 
According to the sub-committee, around 70 complaints were registered by the students against various medical colleges charging exorbitant fees as opposed to the fee ceiling set by the government.

The nine-member sub-committee, formed by the Education and Health Committee of Parliament on March 29 to probe into the fee structures being followed by the medical colleges, had given medical students 15 days to file their complaints against the colleges which charged extra fees.

“We have received complaints from various medical colleges across the country. We are, however, discussing about a possible extension to the 15-day period so that the students who are yet to file complaints can do so,” Lawmaker Suresh Kumar Rai, co-ordinator of the sub-committee, told the Post.

“We have also asked for reports from the universities, providing any kind of medical courses, to determine the previous and recent fee structures being followed by medical colleges. 

The universities have also been said to forward complaints received from the students regarding fee issue,” said Rai.

The decision to form the sub-committee came after the students from Gandaki Medical College led an outcry and after questions were raised by the lawmakers in Parliament in regards to the extra fees being charged by medical colleges.

The students of Gandaki Medical College had staged a 47-day protest from January 31 onwards demanding action against the college administration for charging extra fees and demanding that the extra fee be returned.

According to the MBBS students of Gandaki Medical College, the college had collected Rs850,000 in extra charges from the 2015 batch, Rs 1.3 million from the 2016 batch, Rs1.33 million from the 2017 batch and Rs1.75 million from the 2018 batch. 

The students BDS, BMLT, BMIT, BNS, BSc Nursing and B-Pharmacy have also accused the college administration of charging extra fees.

The government has fixed Rs3.85 million for MBBS programmes inside Kathmandu Valley and Rs4.24 million outside the Valley. 

Calling on all the stakeholders concerned, the Education Ministry on March 21 had directed all the medical colleges to return the additional amount (if charged) to the students within a month. The meeting also saw participation from student representatives from Gandaki Medical College.

Anit Sinha, a 2016-batch MBBS student at Gandaki Medical College, said, “The one-month time period is already up, but the college has not returned the amount. The college administration has not even approached us to talk about it.” Sinha had represented the college students in the meeting at the ministry.

The students of the college had filed a complaint against eleven members of the college administration, including college Chairman Khuma Prasad Aryal, in the Kaski District Police. Following the complaint, police had filed a forgery case against the members at the Kaski District Court on March 5.

Subsequently, police arrested Santosh Khanal, Chief Executive Officer, and Laxman Prasad Sharma, Exam Controller, of the college, and presented them before the court while the remaining nine—College Chairman Aryal, Principal Rabeendra Prasad, Shrestha, Chief Administrative Officer Krishna Ghimire, Finance Controller Yub Raj Sharma, Account Officials Hari Maya Poudel and Dinesh Poudel, Storekeeper Krishna Poudel and staffers Bishworaj Ghimire and Tilak Poudel—were on the run.

The nine individuals were being searched for by police and the Central Investigation Bureau since the issuance of arrest warrants against them.

“All the individuals have been released on bail. The ones on the run came to the court and requested for bail. All the administrative officials have returned to the college but they have not shown any interest in the directive from the Education Ministry,” said Sinha.

According to the officials of the ministry, the universities would take action against the colleges if they do not return the additional amount to the students as per the directive. Hari Lamsal, joint-secretary at the ministry, said, “We have already directed all the medical colleges to return the extra fees charged from the students. If they have not, the universities have full authority to take action against them and they will.” 

However, the university officials have said that the responsibility of taking action against the medical colleges rests with the parliamentary sub-committee as the latter are probing the matter.

“We have already provided previous probe reports of medical colleges in regards to the fee structures. The report of the committee formed under Kushum Shakya will also be provided to the sub-committee once completed,” Tirtha Raj Khaniya, vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University, told the Post.

The university’s Executive Council had formed a five-member committee under Kushum Shakya, head of the central department of Economics of the university, to probe into the matter of Gandaki Medical College.

“We will visit the medical colleges once we receive all the reports. Once the entire process is completed, we will come to a conclusion and suggest necessary actions and steps to the committee,” said Rai.

The students of Gandaki Medical College have warned that they would resume the protest if their demands were not met and the government did not take action against the college.