The National Medical Commission (NMC) has ordered all reputable universities to comply with new guidelines on reducing fees for half of the total number of seats approved in private medical schools starting from the current session. The medical education regulator wrote a letter to this effect to all reputable universities on July 20, The Indian Express has learned.
The Prime Minister announced in March that fees for half of sanctioned seats at private medical schools would be reduced to match fees at government colleges. This will essentially mean that the government tariff will be applicable on 75% of the 92,000 MBBS seats that will be offered for the 2022-23 session.
“Fee regulation guidelines are mandatory under NMC-2019 and will be applicable to students who will be admitted through NEET-UG 2022 and NEET-PG 2022,” the NMC communication to reputable universities reads.
With admissions for the session just months away, the private colleges The Indian Express spoke to said there was no clarity on how the decision should be implemented and that the new guidelines , in all likelihood, will be challenged by private universities in court.
The universities say that in the absence of any subsidy, this decision will make the remaining half of the private places unaffordable.
NMC sources said the guidelines were to be implemented by all private medical schools and that action would be taken if complaints were received from prospective students.
NMC guidelines released in February state that no capitation fees can be charged by colleges and that fees will be determined on a “not-for-profit” basis. The running costs will be calculated based on the audit report of the last financial year (for the last three years at the moment due to the pandemic). For a new college, the calculation of the fee structure will be ad hoc based on the audit of the most recently established medical college in the state.
“The cost of medical education is very high – it includes the cost of running a hospital without compromising on quality. Symbiosis offers the course at one of the lowest fees – Rs10 lakh per year. For self-funded institutes, fees are the only source of income, so if you reduce the cost of 50% of the seats, the other half will have to bear the brunt,” said Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor of Symbiosis International . University, Noida.
She said they were now meeting with experts and trying to work out the costs.
Reputable universities like Symbiosis generally do not have government control over the fee structure, but fees for those like Madhubani Medical College in Bihar are already regulated by the state fee regulatory committee based on their audits expenses.
Dr Rajeev Ranjan, Principal of Madhubani Medical College, said: “Our fees are already set by the regulatory committee. It is decided on the basis of cost – the cost divided by the number of students. This does not leave the possibility of reducing the fees for 50% of the seats at the level of the government colleges. If we have to, the government will have to step in and provide subsidies. Or, we will have to request a fee increase for the remaining 50% of the seats.
Another head of a 700-bed private hospital said: ‘There is no clarity on the implementation of the guidelines, especially for reputable universities. We asked for more clarity from the government.
Newsletter | Click to get the best explainers of the day delivered to your inbox
Although some state fee regulatory committees regulated fees at some private medical schools even before the guidelines arrived, the standards were never uniform.
Even then, the regulated fees were higher than those charged by a government medical college, which can range from a few thousand rupees per year to a few lakh rupees.