MUMBAI: The state by relieving Vedantaa Institute of Medical Sciences, Palgharin from the control of the FRA has set a precedent of sorts for unregulated fees in professional medical colleges. This sets the institute free from the control of the Fee Regulating Authority(FRA) and gives it complete authority to fix fees of all nature, be it tuition or otherwise.
TOI reports that a written communiqué to the FRA by the state authorities have clarified that the move was in line with the Centre’s efforts to encourage private participation by companies with commercial interests to set up medical colleges.
“As this is a first-of-its-kind college which is registered as a private limited company established to make a profit, the MCI has allowed such institutes to charge fees like deemed universities,” Medical Education, Secretary, Sanjay Deshmukh informed TOI.
The decision has indeed left both medical fraternity and activists aghast, as it would give an opportunity to a number of colleges that use the existing rules to opt out of the regulatory framework and make medical education dearer.
Vedanta Institute of Medical Sciences was Maharashtra’s first medical college under a private limited company . Generally private medical colleges and hospitals have an ownership structure as trusts.
The state took a decision to make Vedantaa,’s fee for the reserved category as not refundable. “Five years down the line, the government will end up spending Rs 40-50 crore in reimbursing fees of reserved students admitted to this college,” said a senior officer.
Last year, the DMER declared it to be out of bounds of the FRA. However parental opposition led to FRA in one of its hearings, declare that Vedantaa as a private professional college affiliated to the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and hence falling under the purview of the FRA.
The December 2 meeting of the FRA further declared the FRA that the institution being unaided, private and running a professional course was, therefore, subject to its jurisdiction as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Private and Unaided Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fees) Act, 2015.
The minutes of the meeting read, “The institution in blatant disregard for the ad hoc fees fixed by FRA, which is Rs 6 lakh per student, has been collecting Rs 14 lakh”. It further stated that the institution declaring the fees for NRI/institution quota at Rs 30 lakh, was also not agreeable to. The government, however, has much to the FRA’s surprise reversed its decision.
“The state feels that the college should be allowed to profiteer and we feel that many other institutes will convert themselves from being trusts to for-profit companies. Here comes the start of commercialization of medical education,” said a member of the FRA to TOI.