by Moiz Mannan
Regardless of all the talk about the growing potential of non-conventional and non-traditonal higher and professional education courses, the rush for engineering and medicine continues unabated. It becomes a major challenge for non-resident Indians (NRIs) to seek out information and prepare their children for admission to these courses in India.
Indians residing in the West have more options in their host countries, but a vast majority of those in the Gulf look to get their children admitted to institution in their home country. This is not easy, particularly for those with modest means. The seats in medical and engineering course that are reserved for NRIs often come at a premium.
Besides, there are frequent fee hikes because the college managements, especially in the private sector institutions, see the overseas parents as having excess wealth. Even those who can afford these high fees and donations, have to face complex and ever-changing rules and criteria. The central controlling bodies, the state government and frequent directions from the courts have made admissions nothing short of a nightmare.
Last month, an Indore-based RTI activist claimed to have procured documents to prove a nexus between some private medical colleges and officials of medical education department for admitting candidates through unfair means.
Private medical colleges in Madhya Pradesh are now likely to face heat for alleged irregularities in admissions of students in MBBS course.
As per 2009 Supreme Court ruling, a private medical college can fill 15 per cent seats with NRI quota, 43 per cent seats through their own examination procedure while the rest 42 per cent seats are to be filled in by state PMT.
Uncertainty also prevails in Kerala over admissions to MBBS seats in Cochin Medical College (CMC) that has now been renamed as Government Medical College, Ernakulam, with the takeover proceedings still going on.
Reports from Kochi say that although the government issued an order renaming the institution as Government Medical College, Ernakulam, it was not clear whether MBBS seats have been added to the government quota or not.
Commissioner for Entrance Examinations B S Mavoji was quoted by the media as saying that “The government so far has not issued an order to add MBSS seats in Ernakulam Government Medical College under the government quota. Therefore, these seats do not fall under any quota in the prospectus. It will be added to some quota after the government issues an order. The order is expected to be issued before the allotment of seats.”
Until last year, admission to MBBS seats in this medical college was conducted through self-financing mode. The college offers 100 seats for MBBS, of which 50 per cent is allotted to candidates in merit quota, 35 per cent for self-financing sector and 15 per cent for NRIs.
With the government announcing the takeover, it was expected that the admissions this year will be done under government quota. Last year, admission to 15 NRI seats had also sparked off a controversy due to alleged attempts to sell seats. The Admission Supervisory Committee intervened in the issue and held an entrance test to NRI seats.
At Punjab University, the Syndicate is mulling abolition of the condition of Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for NRI students seeking admission to the university. The Board of Studies in Dental Surgery, and later, Faculty of Medical Sciences had recommended doing away with SAT for NRI students. The faculty has recommended that students seeking admission under NRI category who have taken their qualifying exam (equivalent to 10+2 of the Indian system) in a language other than English will have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. Merit list will be prepared on the pattern followed by Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh.
On the other hand, the Hyderabad-based Mahindra École Centrale (MEC) has said that SAT Subject test results would be considered for NRI/PIO/International Passport holders. The classes for the inaugural batch are slated for commencement on the August 4.
This College of Engineering has been established through a three-way collaboration involving Mahindra Group, École Centrale Paris, a 200-year-old leading French University dedicated to engineering education and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad.
It has announced admissions for the Integrated Dual Degree Programme for its inaugural batch set to commence in August 2014 from its new campus at Bahadurpally near Hyderabad.
On the issue of high fees, NRI students wishing to get admitted to institutions in Punjab will have to shell out more from the next session. There will be an increase of 10 per cent in tuition fees of self-financed courses and 20 per cent of regular (non-financed) courses for first-year students. NRI students will also have to pay an additional 10 percent to study at the university.
A 10 percent increase in fees of examination forms and related application forms, to be implemented from March 2014, had also been proposed.
The Punjab and Haryana high court last week upheld the hike in fee for foreign Indian students to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.
A division bench passed these orders while hearing a bunch of petitions against an unrealistically high fee that has been provided for NRI candidates. The petitioners had protested a fee for NRI students from $55,000 to $1,25,000 for the full course.
Deciding the issue, the bench held, “The petitioners are candidates who have taken the NRI quota seats, knowing fully well the fee they are liable to pay. When the fee structure was being revised, no objections were filed, but now a lot of hue and cry is being raised over the issue”.