Kerala Government Does a U-Turn on Private Medical Seat Allotment

Much was said by the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government when the seat allocation process for private medical colleges in the State was announced. It even made a statement that the entire process of seat allocation and decision on the fee structure would be under the control of the government itself. But when it came to self-financing medical colleges, the government’s stand changed. And the rest is a story of chaos for the students.

As the government changed its initial stand on the issue, the fee structure seems to have been affected. Like in the previous years, the change in fees is going to be a burden for the students. This time, the hike in fees of the self-financed medical colleges is around 30-35%.

The agreement signed between the self-financed medical colleges and the government says that 50% merit seats of the total seats would be handled by the government. Out of these 50% seats, in 30% of merit seats the fee would be Rs. 2.50 lakh. In the previous year it was Rs. 1.85 lakh. The rest of the 20% seats would be for below poverty line (BPL) category. The fee for this group would be Rs. 25,000 as it was in the previous years. In the rest of the 50% seats that is allocated to the managements, 35% of the seats comes under the category of management quota for Rs. 11 lakh. In the previous year, it was Rs. 8.50 lakh. The remaining 15% of the NRI quota seats would carry a fee of Rs. 15 lakh, which was Rs. 12.50 lakh in the previous year.

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In the last year, there were only around 210 merit seats in the self-financed medical colleges for the government. But this time around, it has jumped to 460 as more number of medical colleges have joined hands with the government. The revised fee structure has given the Opposition parties a reason to protest against the ruling government. Indian Youth Congress and Kerala Students Union have already staged protests against the government’s management favoring stand in the self-finance medical college issue.

In an exclusive interview with The Kochi Post, Indian Youth Congress Kerala president Dean Kuriakose has criticised the LDF government’s approach in the self-financed medical colleges issue. He said that “government has failed to keep the promises that have been given to the public”.

Even the parents are not hiding their concerns on the issue. They unanimously say that, “this would be burden on the parents. Even if there are merit marks, we have to pay more money for education. The government should take necessary steps to look into the issue”.

Students Federation of India (SFI) State president Jaick C. Thomas has another take on the issue.

Speaking to The Kochi Post he said that, “The decision to take up all the management seats by the government at the initial stage was really a good move. But the decision was challenged in Court by the managements. The SFI feels that this is against democracy and merit. The verdict also gives a picture that managements hold the power in 100% of the seats. In the earlier stage, the government decided to make a unified fee structure, but the SFI was against that. Then the government had discussions with the managements and agreed on the fees of Rs.2.5 lakh. We are not ignoring that managements hold the upper hand, as they have the advantage of the court verdict. But we were able to increase the number of merit seats and the fees of BPL seats were not changed.”

The Kochi Post asked him why the SFI didn’t stage any protests like they did in Karnataka for the same issue.

“We have decided not to consider this as it is a dry issue. At the start, it was decided to be Rs. 4.5 lakh. So we were the ones who called for the press meet against it, even before the Youth Congress or other student organisations. We understand the pressure exerted by the government to reduce the amount. That is why we decide not protest against this issue. The SFI expressed its disagreement always when it concerns the hike in fee structure, as we think from the side of the students. But we have agreed to the decision this time as otherwise self-finance medical entrances would have remained a long process and ordinary people would be forced to pay Rs. 5 to 10 lakh for study,” he said.

KSU vice-president advocate K.M. Rohith feels the government and the managements are staging a drama by using the issue.

“We are taking the issue to the next level by staging protests at the State capital. There is a huge hike of 30-33% in the fee structure. The initial stage saw the government coming up with a proposal of uniform fee structure, but it later changed its stand. This itself shows the government has tied up with the managements. The government and SFI claim that the court order is favoring the managements. Then why is the government not moving higher Courts. These people have a history of staging protests against self-financed medical colleges.In Koothuparamba, they have staged a protest. At least they have to show justice to those martyrs at Koothuparamba,” he says.

The government has also decided on the fee structure with the dental college managements. According to the agreement, 30% merit seats of the government would be at Rs. 2.10 lakh and 14% of merit seats would cost Rs.44, 000. Meanwhile, 6% of the merit seats would be Rs. 23,000 like last year. In the management quota, 35 % of seats would be of Rs. 5 lakh and NRI quota seats would be Rs. 6 lakh.

Main photographs by ICUnurses (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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