Punjab government ban on the students of private medical colleges to get house jobs and internships in government sector
Islamabad, Jan 20: Owing to the ban imposed on the students of private medical and dental colleges regarding house jobs, the new graduates are finding it difficult to get house jobs and internships in government sector.
The government of Punjab had imposed a ban on the students of private medical colleges, both local and foreign, from acquiring training in the governmental hospitals in the form of house jobs and internships. The decision was followed by protests and demonstrations by the medical students and doctors across the province, last month.
After the announcement of MBBS and BDS results by the University of Health Sciences (UHS) Lahore, hundreds of medical and dentistry students that have graduated from numerous private colleges across Punjab, are unable to get house jobs or even internships in government sector.
"Compared to the private sector, the government sector offers enormous opportunities for professional training due to its broader set-up, massive resources and heavy turnout of patients. Banning private medical students to avail the expertise offered in government sector would deprive them of tremendous learning opportunities," said some newly graduated students.
The students further added, "This is a discriminatory criteria. The students of private colleges also belong to this nation, why are they discriminated and marginalised then?"
The students argued that private medical and dental hospitals are based on smaller set-ups, which can not accommodate numerous private students. "The private medical and dental colleges usually comprise of 30 to 50 beds' hospitals, they cannot bear the burden of larger number of graduating students," opined a student.
In addition, Pakistani students studying medicine in foreign universities in China, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia and other regional countries told this scribe that they need to get internship certificates from Pakistani hospitals to complete their five-year medicine course abroad. "After completing four years of study abroad, we are required to get nine months internship training at homeland and then fly back to our respective educational institutions to get degrees," mentioned these students. Each hospital demands Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 for training foreign students in local hospitals. We are ready to pay as much money as they demand, but can't get internships even then, they lamented.
"We have to complete our nine months training here to get our degrees from abroad. If we are neglected then we won't be able to pursue our educational endeavours," apprehended the students.
When contacted, sources in the provincial health sector of Punjab said that private medical students are preferred in government sector once they get degrees. "The private students get jobs in government sector after completing their training in government hospitals which violates the right of the government students regarding jobs in government sector. The ban is imposed to curb the present practise," stated an official under the condition of anonymity. "These students pay heavy dues to private colleges and get quality education in return. Why aren't they offered quality training and respectable jobs in the private sector then?" he asked.
Meanwhile, sources in medical colleges demanded of the Chief Minister Punjab to lift the ban on immediate basis.
They suggested that the provincial government might reduce or cut down the stipends amounts for private students if the government deems them an extra burden on provincial economy. "The government may cut down the stipend amounts which are offered to medical trainees during house jobs but it must lift the ban as it is affecting the professional careers of hundreds of medical graduates," they suggested. The NationYour Comments
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UHS laxity prompts private varsity to shun supervision
Lahore: The 'weak' administration of University of Health Sciences (UHS), Lahore, has given 'dissenting voices', particularly in private sector, a chance to seek exemption from the mandatory affiliation of their medical/dental colleges with the varsity.
The UHS administration headed by incumbent Vice-Chancellor Prof Mubashar H. Malik, the first VC continuing on the slot for the sixth year since the establishment of the university in 2002, has failed to strengthen the university in its formative years thus getting flak from its former senior faculty members. The lax attitude of the administration has also allowed the management of a private institution to seek 'disaffiliation' of all private medical/dental colleges from the university.
The VC, who has not only retired but also completed his four-year contract and is now working "till further orders", has brought the university back to square one whereby not only private sector but even public sector institutions have sought disaffiliation from the university. In a recent example, MBBS students of Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur, protesting an 'out of course' Pharmacology paper in second Professional Annual Examination, demanded affiliation of their college with the Islamia University, Bahawalpur, instead of the UHS.
Several doctors are of the view that the UHS vice-chancellor has been watching his own interests and obliging high-ups of the provincial government and other influential personalities in order to prolong his stay in the university, as allegedly surfaced in a recent entrance test conducted by the UHS. They claimed that the government either did not hold any inquiry or made its finding public into the addition of 218 candidates one day after formal declaration of the result of entry test. Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif publicly praised the transparent entrance test without considering the case of those who suffered due to the 'addition' of the 218 candidates.
They said that the vice-chancellor was not appointed through any valid selection process but appointed on the recommendation of former UHS Board of Governors Chairman Prof Mahmood Ahmad Chaudhry (late). "Whereas the post of the Vice Chancellor of King Edward Medical University has been advertised twice, the post of the vice-chancellor of the UHS has never been advertised for the right candidates to compete for the coveted slot," they observed.
The Governor's Secretariat forwarded a letter containing University of Lahore's briefing on private sector medical colleges to the Health Department and sought its opinion in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, including the University of Health Sciences, private medical universities, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Law and Education Departments with a view to ensure level playing field to the public sector as well as private medical institutions. In the said briefing to the Governor/Chancellor as explained in the letter, this private university on behalf all private medical colleges without any mandate, demanded disaffiliation of all private medical colleges from the UHS to take their examinations independently of UHS. Instead of making the demand just for its own constituent medical/dental college - which is already not formally affiliated with the UHS in the first place - this private university 'pleaded' the case of all universities. No medical/dental college in the province, however, has raised any such demand.
This private university, which is continuously resisting the relevant provision of mandatory affiliation with the UHS, is instigating other private institutions to seek disaffiliation from the UHS. This private university, in a briefing to the governor, mentioned that private medical colleges were subjected to frequent inspections by the UHS "to harass and intimidate private medical colleges". The apparent intentions are to escape the monitoring of any government agency or institution, which is indispensable under all circumstances to maintain the quality of medical education being imparted at any private medical/dental college in the province.
Besides, it also objected to the UHS for charging Rs10,000 registration fee, 5.5 per cent of the tuition fee of each student of private medical colleges, and Rs1 million as subscription towards Endowment Fund from the private medical colleges, on the basis of an argument that this was not the case with the public sector medical colleges. It, however, didn't mention that it was charging exorbitant fees (which reportedly run over Rs 2 to 2.5 million during MBBS course) from its students in comparison with the meagre fees charged by the public sector medical colleges. Besides, the UHS officials claimed that UHS had the right to generate revenue from private medical colleges because it didn't have the privilege, like other universities, to get government grants. "There is no government check on private medical colleges to submit a schedule of fees in order to bring them within a reasonable limit," they added.
It also surprised many in the Health Department that Governor's Secretariat had forwarded to the Health Department the letter containing briefing from the owner of this private university without inclusion of the opinion of other major stakeholder i.e. University of Health Sciences despite presence of UHS VC during the said meeting. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer's own views, in favour or against, were also not made part of the letter, giving the impression that the Governor's Secretariat had just recommended the views expressed during the briefing.
Besides, the UHS authorities, due to its lack of commitment, failed to effectively snub private university's propaganda against public sector university, thus allowing it to go as far as advocating disaffiliation of all medical colleges from the UHS.
Earlier, the Punjab Higher Education Department, in its notification dated December 15, 2008 on the orders of Governor/Patron, had given formal approval of affiliation of College of Medicine and Dentistry - a constituent college of University of Lahore - with the University of Health Sciences (UHS), Lahore, in the backdrop of Article 37 of the UHS Ordinance 2002, which says, "All medical institutions, whether in public or private sector, located within the geographical boundaries of the province of the Punjab, whether affiliated with any other University, Examination Board or a Medical Faculty, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, shall affiliate with the University within such period and on such terms and conditions, as may be prescribed." The order could not be implemented as the case of affiliation of the constituent medical college of this private university with the UHS is pending before the court.
The stakeholders in medical education claimed that this private university, which desired to issue degrees for medical and dental qualifications as being a chartered university, didn't display any morality as it had been conducting admissions to its constituent medical/dental college since 2001 without being affiliated with the University of Health Sciences or authorized to issue degrees independently under its umbrella or even before getting Pakistan Medical and Dental Council's (PMDC) recognition. As merit is usually not followed in the admission process in private sector, they stated that financial status of the candidates was the only merit as non-eligible students were also allegedly given admissions to private sector medical/dental colleges.
The Medical Teachers Association (MTA), Punjab, General Secretary, Prof Muhammad Amjad said that UHS' weak administration under the present vice-chancellor had allowed private sector medical/dental colleges to seek disaffiliation from the university, which if taken place, would be disastrous for the medical profession as private sector medical institutions were operating solely on commercial basis.
"It amounts to giving a free hand to private medical colleges to dictate medical profession on its own terms and escape checks and balances of the public sector university as well as accountability of the provincial government," he said and added that the government now needed to strengthen this institution, if it had earlier adamantly established this university, and appoint a competent and strong person with a sound administrative background to run the university in an effective manner.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Lahore, General Secretary Dr Tanveer Anwar urged the government to appoint an eligible candidate as the vice-chancellor of the UHS through a transparent selection process to strengthen this public sector university with a view to improve the standard of medical education in the province. He urged the government to introduce a strict regulatory system to keep a check on private medical/dental colleges with a view to streamline medical education in the private sector in the province. "The permission to any private university, with a dubious track record, to independently issue degrees for medical and dental qualifications will be highly detrimental to the medical profession in the province," he observed.
When contacted, University of Lahore Board of Governors Chairman MA Raoof disowned the contention of pursuing the case of disaffiliation of all private medical/dental colleges from the UHS, saying that the government should allow those private medical/dental colleges functioning under chartered universities to continue to function under their umbrella. "The College of Medicine and Dentistry, which is functioning under a chartered university, cannot be affiliated with any other university under provisions of its statues," he said and added that UHS which served only as an examination board had destroyed the medical education and health sector in the province.
When asked about the criticism over making admissions without getting PMDC recognition or the authority to issue degrees, he claimed that the university's constituent medical college, which started admissions in 2001, got PMDC's permanent recognition in 2005 and then in 2007, adding that the university did not cause any mental anguish to students as it could still issue degrees to them. He disagreed that Punjab government's notification was required to allow it to issue degrees for medical and dental qualifications.
Punjab Health Department Additional Secretary (Technical) Dr Mushtaq Ahmad said the Health Department was in the process of finalizing recommendations regarding private sector medical education in the province in consultation with the relevant stakeholders as desired by the Governor/Chancellor. "The Health Department will dispatch its recommendations to the Governor's Secretariat in the next few days," he added. The News
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