PMC resents Sindh decision to slash MDCAT pass percentage

December 09, 2021

Islamabad : Pakistan Medical Commission , the national regulator for medical and dental education has resented the Sindh government’s decision to slash the minimum pass rate for admission to...

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Islamabad : Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC), the national regulator for medical and dental education has resented the Sindh government’s decision to slash the minimum pass rate for admission to MBBS/BDS courses in the province, insisting the move is meant to benefit moneyed candidates against the rule of merit and thus, negatively impacting the quality of education.

“Lowering the pass percentage of the MDCAT (Medical and Dental College Admission Test) 2021-22 from 65 per cent to 50 per cent is not only contrary to merit, which is a constitutional mandate for higher education but it will result in the promotion of deficiency and inadequacy in the education sector as well,” a spokesman for the Pakistan Medical Commission said in an official statement.

The statement was a reaction to the announcement of Sindh health minister Dr Azra Pechuho that the provincial government was going to legislate for the establishment of the Sindh Medical and Dental Council after the PMC turned down its request to lower the MDCAT merit for students of Sindh for 2021-22 admissions to provincial medical and dental colleges. She declared the PMC admission policy defective.

According to the PMC spokesman, the passing of the MDCAT in accordance with the criteria set by the regulator is mandatory for admission to public and private medical and dental colleges across the country and the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court had ruled in favour of it.

“Under Section 13(c) read with Section 18(1) of the PMC Act, 2020, the National Medical and Dental Academic Board and the Medical and Dental Council have the exclusive authority to determine and set the standard and passing marks for MDCAT. No other entity or authority can vary or alter the standard or passing marks for MDCAT in Pakistan. Any student admitted without meeting the eligibility criteria will not be registered with PMC and will result in not being issued a licence to practice in the country.”

The spokesman said any medical or dental college admitting students, who hadn’t passed the MDCAT, would be liable for penal action under the law, including the cancellation of their accreditation and registration as a medical or dental college, while strict legal action would be taken against any college undertaking such admissions and failing to follow the published admission criteria as per the regulations.

“The notification dated 7th December 2021 issued by the Sindh health department is contrary to not only Section 18 of the PMC Act 2020 but also violates the determination of the superior courts. No provincial government or any university or college has the authority to alter the passing marks of MDCAT as set by PMC. Allowing the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University (Larkana) to process admissions allowing students having less than 65% marks is directly contrary to the law and without authority. It amounts to an attempt to establish criteria contrary to the mandatory criteria and process laid down under the PMC Act, 2020.”

The PMC spokesman said the Sindh government couldn’t alter the admission criteria of any private college and that it could conduct the admissions only to public medical and dental colleges in the province and determine a policy subject to such policy being in addition to the mandatory conditions for admissions set out in Section 18(1) of the PMC Act 2020 being the mandatory qualification of the MDCAT and using the MDCAT results as a 50 per cent weightage in calculation of any merit formula determined by the provincial government or its authorised university.

He said the attempt to lower the MDCAT pass percentage by the Sindh government was detrimental to promoting excellence in the healthcare education standards in the country.

“Allowing lower merit in MDCAT for entry into a medical & dental college deprives a large number of students who have acquired the requisite merit by qualifying the MDCAT only on the basis that they are presumably unable to pay the fee of private education.”

The spokesman said the demand for lowering MDCAT merit represented the desire of a handful of private colleges, who were interested solely in filling their seats with students capable to pay the high fees of private education with ease irrespective of merit.

“Allowing admission to ineligible students violates the right on merit acquired by over 68,000 students in Pakistan to obtain admission in medical and dental colleges. The PMC is working to eradicate the menace of meritless processes in higher education,” he said.

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