NEET hits capitation fee, private medical colleges hike tuition charges
With the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) becoming a hurdle to charging capitation fees, private medical colleges across India have substantially hiked tuition fees, while the cost of medical education in government colleges remains the same.
Tamil Nadu saw the highest jump in cost of private medical education. At Chennai's SRM Medical college, the tuition fee is now Rs 21 lakh a year or Rs 94.5 lakh for the four-and-a-half year MBBS course, against Rs 10 lakh per annum last year. This does not include expenses on books and lodging.
In Katihar Medical College in north Bihar, the annual tuition fee has been revised from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12.5 lakh. In Delhi, at the Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences, tuition fees in the management quota is up from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 18 lakh.
In government colleges, the sums range from as little as Rs 9,000 for the entire MBBS course in Rajasthan to Rs 4.4 lakh in Punjab. While most private medical colleges come under the purview of the Supreme Courtappointed fee committees in each state, deemed universities rarely come under the states' radar, leaving room for them to arbitrarily fix fees -a trend seen across the country . At Dr D Y Patil Medical College, Navi Mumbai, for example, the official fee is hiked by 3% every year. In 2013, the annual fee stood at Rs 8.5 lakh. This year, it's up by 32%. Students now have to pay Rs 16.5 lakh annually or Rs 76.2 lakh for their entire course. Similarly , at Chennai-based Saveetha University, the annual tuition fee has gone up from Rs 9 lakh last year to Rs 15 lakh now.
Private universities say their overheads have been very high. "MCI stipulations for hospitals and college infrastructure are very stringent. We also need to woo faculty from clinical practice, which isn't easy ," said Dr Raj Bahadur, vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, which conducts centralised counselling for medical colleges in Punjab. Some heads also cited competition from other medical colleges as a reason for pushing up their fees.
Data collected by TOI from across the country suggests that studying medicine in the private sector could be most expensive in Tamil Nadu and cheapest in Gujarat and Karnataka. However, in many states, capitation fee is collected in cash over and above the hiked fees. For instance in Maharashtra, many private colleges are learnt to be taking Rs 40-60 lakh or Rs 70-75 lakh in the deemed universities. This makes it difficult to estimate the actual cost of private sector medical education.
That explains why activists are sceptical about capitation fees having been scuppered by NEET. "Even after the hiking of fees, a few colleges are still taking capitation fees in cash. But most are at least declaring higher fees instead of collecting cash under the table. To make it even more foolproof, the PAN number of the parents making the payment should be attached. And for every admission in the NRI quota, passport and citizenship details should be on record to be examined later in case of doubt of any fraud," said Dr Anand Rai, one of the whistleblowers in the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh.
Members of state fee committees say they are aware of the climb in cost of medical education postNEET, but are helpless. "We can't do anything about it unless the public takes it up with the courts," said Dr C V Bhirmanandam, a member of the fee committee in TN.Committee members say they can only review tuition fees, not other charges.
"For medical colleges, these figures translate into business, but for parents and aspiring doctors they mark the end of their dream," said K Srinivasan, who was asked to pay Rs 40 lakh for his daughter's admission at a deemed university in Chennai.
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