The revised fee structure of Kerala’s self-financing medical colleges has only added to the concerns of students who enrolled in 2017. The next batches will be required to pay a hefty sum to the administrations.
Kerala: The 2021 Supreme Court’s order to the State’s Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee to charge “non-exploitative and fair” fees for MBBS studies from 2017-18 onwards has increased problems for students at private medical colleges.
Theertha Jayaprakash, a third-year student at Sree Gokulam Medical College said, ““The whole shift in fee structure began when we entered in 2017. It was very confusing. People had no idea how much they were required to pay. We had to pay a large sum of money at the start of the course. They got rid of the non-resident Indian (NRI) seat in college and gave merit seats a higher priority than management seats.”
“Until then medical students had to pay Rs. 2.25 lakh , but we had to pay Rs. 4.85 to5 lakh when we joined. Every year, I have to pay fees at the same fixed rate. Each academic year students who enroll in college for the first time pay more than we did. My friends who couldn’t afford the fees dropped out, and those who could afford the fees were given merit seats at the time,” she added
The annual fee for MBBS courses was set at Rs 11 lakh by an interim verdict on August 28,2017. The decision was a major setback for the Kerala government and financially disadvantaged students who have already begun applying for admission.
Students who got admission in self-financing colleges had to apply for a bank guarantee within 15 days of their admission. The court had ordered that Rs. 5 lakhs of the Rs. 11 lakhs be paid in cash, with the remaining Rs. 6 lakhs being paid in cash or bank guarantee.
Theertha said that her college did not provide insurance to her batch until after the fee hike, but that her seniors did. They will be treated in their hospital if anything happens to them.
Akshaya Mohan, student at Jubliee Mission Medical College and Research Institute said, “I was denied admission to a government college because of a minor gap in grades. Students who lose seats in this way would pay twice as much to pursue the same course in self-financing institutions. The merit seat has lost its value. What is the point of studying hard for the course now that the administration has almost equalized the fee for merit and management seats?”
“They used to take Rs 20 lakh from NRIs and give Rs 5 lakh to financially deprived students, but after the fee hike, only four students received it. Normally, more students receive help, but the administration tried to keep this from happening. They charge us extra money for our hostel fees. Our seniors shared the same hostel, and while nothing has changed, we do have to pay more.” said Angel, another student of Jubliee Mission Medical College and Research Institute.
The Parents Coordination of Medical Students (PCOMS) asked the committee to review the fee structure based on actual cost documentation submitted by college managements after the Supreme Court decision on February 25, 2021.
PCOMS is a parent-led organization that represents over 12,000 students enrolled in MBBS courses at private medical colleges since 2017.
“We are afraid that they will raise the tuition at any time,” Namitha Babu, who entered Jubliee Mission Medical College and Research Institute in 2019, said. It is difficult for us to pay such a large sum during a pandemic. Any time there is a fee problem, our parents become concerned.”
Dr. Shailaja T.S, Medical expert said, “The decision of the SC has had a negative impact on students. Private management is trying to reach all ends of the spectrum. Patients would not be a significant source of income for new institutions; instead, students will be their primary source of income. They also reduced management quotas; previously, 50 percent came from merit, 35 percent went to management, and 15 percent went to NRIs. Currently, NEET accounts for 85 percent of e-enrollment, with the remaining 15 percent is reserved for NRIs.”
“Every district now has a large number of government colleges. Students who cannot afford high tuition will attend government colleges and do well in their studies. Professors of self-financing colleges are also impacted by this because, despite doing the same work as government teachers, they do not receive nearly as much support,’’ she added.