Fee limit for medical colleges


PARENTS and their children aspiring to study medicine heaved a sigh of relief on the Supreme Court’s decision fixing the upper limit of fee for private medical colleges. Announcing the judgment Saturday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar prohibited private medical colleges from charging more than Rs 642,000 in fees and warned them of a complete shutdown if any discrepancies are found in their account.
Given the exorbitant fee structure of medical colleges, the medical education indeed had become an affair of elite class and we understand that the decision of the apex court will also enable children of less income groups to fulfil their dreams and study the field of medicine. Though some political circles have concerns over judicial interference in different matters but on the contrary it is incumbent upon the courts to protect fundamental rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution. When governments and their departments fail to deliver as per their mandate, the judiciary is left with no option but to come forward to save the people from exploitation. In fact had Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) been fulfilling its responsibilities and keeping a check on the fees as well as admission policy of private medical colleges, the apex court would not have to intervene. Anyway as Supreme Court has given its judgment, we expect that the PMDC will get the decision implemented in letter and in spirit and also keep an eye on their standard of education as any compromise on it would amount to playing with lives of common man. The PMDC also needs to protect the students from the blackmailing tactics of private medical colleges as in the past there have been instances where colleges were found involved in threatening students for moving the courts against their decisions. Moreover, the matter of exorbitant fees is not only limited to medical colleges but private schools over the years have also been following similar nasty practices with frequent increases in their fee structure beside minting money from parents through different tactics. The federal and provincial governments need to work out a mechanism that fixes fees of private schools keeping in view their standard and environment they provide to students. A more palatable solution will be if governments improve the standard of public sector schools so that parents are not forced to send their children to private entities.