Medical education in Nepal has captured the attention of the general public, but for the wrong reasons. After students refused to pay additional tuition when asked by the college management, the operator of a private medical college in the eastern town of Biratnagar prohibited them from attending lessons.
Students protested rising fees imposed on them, bringing the situation to a head. According to media sources, the additional fees were over Rs. 2 million.
The victims were forced to reside in college hostels by the owners. The protesting students also claimed that the college management obliged them to dine at the dormitory canteens, for which they had to pay exorbitant costs, in addition to paying tuition and other expenses totaling Rs. 4 to 5 million.
The increasing costs will add to the total cost of completing medical school, while the high fees charged to unsuspecting students would enrich the operators by millions of rupees.
The desperation of private college operators to extract large sums of money from students’ wallets under various pretexts has stymied the country’s medical research.
Some applicants who paid price installments for enrolment or after admission had no choice than to pay the required costs, or face numerous roadblocks on their way to completing MBBS or postgraduate degrees.
Some victims had the courage to speak out against private college owners who had increased prices in violation of the government’s prior action to set the fee ceiling.
As the debate over increased costs heated up, one owner declared that his college could not teach a student for the state-mandated rates. The owner, who is a member of the reigning political party, has escaped punishment so far.
Meanwhile, the local government has put off taking action against the wrongdoing colleges, claiming that they would only do so if victims presented a legal application requesting that the wrongdoers be prosecuted.
Following media outrage over student protests against three colleges, Nobel Medical College (Biratnagar), Kathmandu Medical College (Kathmandu), and Manipal College of Pokhara, the Education Ministry warned that the institutes’ connection with several universities will be revoked.
Following the ministry’s warning, one college, Manipal, agreed to refund the extra fees it had charged undergraduates.
All of the foregoing examples highlight an important point: medical education in our nation is riddled with flaws. Aside from the self-serving nature of college administrators, the lack of standards in medical education at many institutions is a source of concern.
Many private universities do not have enough qualified faculty to run classes. The operators of private medical institutes enroll students who can afford to pay the fees that they demand.
Less qualified applicants who get admission frequently do so by paying unfair fees charged by these universities.
This trend merely lowers the general grade of health care coverage. When less talented students graduate to become doctors, we can’t expect quality in health care.
It’s worth recalling Dr. Govinda KC’s efforts and difficulties to change medical education and the whole health sector, as a retired orthopaedic surgeon at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.
In the past, KC held multiple rounds of fast-unto-death protests, demanding that the authorities overhaul the industry.
As a result of his persistent concerns, the Ministry of Health and Population established a research committee, which later fixed the fee structure for MBBS and postgraduate studies at all medical colleges.
KC’s request that the state buy or take over all private medical colleges deserves our attention since it could help solve the current oddity of proprietors’ greed for bigger payments from students.
Despite the fact that the government has put in place measures to prevent private colleges from milking money from poor students, the universities frequently put pressure on them to pay extra fees.
In the country, there are 22 medical colleges with approximately 2,500 places available for medical education.
Government-owned colleges are outnumbered by private medical institutions.
At government and non-government colleges, the government has segregated seats for students who are eligible for full and partial scholarships, as well as seats for those who wish to pay tuition fees.
Private college owners are eager to rear their ugly heads whenever the country’s political situation becomes uncertain, imposing additional fees on poor students.
Because they have so many resources at their disposal, these business entrepreneurs frequently become closer to politicians and political parties. They strive to take advantage of their proximity to politicians and political parties.
Our authority should not allow any of them to receive such perks, so that the students are not the ones who suffer.
The current irregularities must be resolved once and for all. We must remember that when a student is forced to pay high fees as additional charges, the parents are the ones who suffer the most.
Students who successfully complete the course can do their best to recuperate their fees, which they can go to any length to do once they begin working in the medical sector.
Quality health care in the United States has remained out of reach for a vast portion of the population due to its high cost.
The poor, lower middle class, and middle class cannot afford to seek medical treatment in the capital’s private hospitals or elsewhere.
To make matters worse, low-cost health insurance policies exist, preventing people from receiving basic medical care.
One of the reasons for the country’s poor health-care system is private operators’ greed. The oddity of charging exorbitant rates makes a future doctor less likely to provide high-quality care to underserved people.
However, it makes them extremely eager to take funds from patients through various means.