Medical Microbiology students have a degree, but have no job

2019-03-18

The Kathmandu Post


- Arjun Poudel- Students of medical microbiology from Tribhuvan University Institute of Science and Technology are not licensed to work

KATHMANDU, Deepak Sharma got his Master of Science degree on medical microbiology in 2013. When he joined the two-year course in 2010, he had high hopes that he would be working as a senior specialist at a medical laboratory. 

But for the last six years or so, he has remained unemployed. And now with no option left for him in Nepal, he is planning to go abroad “in search of a job”. “I would rather have chosen any other subject in MSc if I had known that I would be in limbo even after getting a degree in medical microbiology,” the 32-year-old from Jaimini Municipality of Baglung district said. Currently, Sharma earns a living by tutoring school students. 

So what went wrong?

For Sharma to work as a specialist at a laboratory, he needs licence from the Nepal Health Professional Council. But the council does not recognise the degree from the Tribhuvan University Institute of Science and Technology (IoST), where he studied medical microbiology. 

Sharma is one of the 3,000 students who did their master’s in medical microbiology from the institute but were denied licence by the council to practise. “Why is Tribhuvan University continuing the MSc microbiology course when it is not recognised by another competent authority in the country?” Ajit Kumar Ray Yadav, another student, wondered. “The university should rather stop the programme so that it does not produce any more students with the degree that they cannot sell in the market.”

The TU Department of Microbiology is still running the medical microbiology course and producing over 200 microbiologists every year from 15 affiliated colleges including Trichandra College despite the fact that those who get the degree cannot practise. 

Meg Raj Banjara, head of the Microbiology Department, said there was no reason to bar students, who pursued MSc in medical microbiology, from getting the licence. He added that even the Ministry of Health and Population and the National Public Health Laboratory had recommended that the Nepal Health Professional Council license the students who completed MSc in the discipline.

The council currently provides licence to students graduated in the same subject from the Institute of Medicine, TU. It also issues licence to the students who have BSc or MSc in medical microbiology from India and other universities in Nepal. Ram Prasad Bhandari, chairman of the Nepal Health Professional Council, said the council was not issuing licence to students from the Science and Technology Institute because they “do not get enough exposure in hospital laboratories”.

“Those who go to the Institute of Medicine, however, get the opportunity to work in hospital laboratories, hence they are licensed. But colleges under the IoST do not have their laboratories.” “The council does not have any problem issuing licence to students from the IoST. But two institutes of TU [medicine and IoST] should decide first,” said Bhandari. “The IoST should approve its course from the council and the college running the programme should sign a memorandum with hospitals so that the students get enough exposure.”

Banjara, the head of the Microbiology Department at the IoST, however, said there is  a lack of understanding among Tribhvuan University office bearers. “We have failed to explain the exact scenario to TU office bearers, largely because they are from different backgrounds and they refuse to internalise the problems students are facing,” said Banjara.

In this blame game, students like Sharma and Yadav are the victims.
“I have a degree but I don’t have a job that I wanted to do. I find it tough to explain the kind of degree I possess to my friends, relatives and family members,” Yadav said.