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Tuesday June 18, 2024

200 candidates held for using unfair means in MDCAT exam

Almost 90% of candidates were caught while using Bluetooth-enabled pocket-sized devices connected to micro earpieces

By our correspondents
September 11, 2023
Students take an entrance exam at the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences (LUMHS) in Jamshoro. — APP/File
Students take an entrance exam at the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences (LUMHS) in Jamshoro. — APP/File

PESHAWAR/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Despite challenges, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education and Evaluation Testing Agency (ETEA) on Sunday smoothly conducted the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) and arrested around 200 candidates using unfair means.

“The ETEA team gave a tough time to the highly-connected and well-organised mafia and arrested around 200 candidates from the examination centres,” a senior official of the health department told The News on condition of anonymity.

He said that it was now the responsibility of law-enforcement agencies and judiciary to go after the ringleader of the mafias.

The official said ETEA Executive Director Mohammad Imtiaz Ayub and his team faced challenges while competing with the well-organised mafias. The gang utilised all resources and influence to leak the paper, he said.

Almost 90 per cent of the candidates were caught while using the Bluetooth-enabled pocket-sized devices connected to micro earpieces during the examination.

Also, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry took notice of attempts to use unfair means in the MDCAT. The electronic gadgets were confiscated, the candidature of students in question was also cancelled.

The chief secretary ordered police and the Special Branch to conduct thorough investigations into the matter and interrogate the students, their parents, and others to uncover the network behind it and take appropriate legal action against them.

The chief secretary emphasised that no leniency should be shown to anyone, including government officials, found to be connected to this misconduct.

In a bid to prevent such incidents in future, the chief secretary directed IT Board and Higher Education Department officials to collaborate with experts to develop strategies to deter the use of unfair means.

The entrance test for admission to public and private medical and dental colleges of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was held in 43 halls in eleven cities across the province, and a total 46,612 candidates participated.

The entrance test was organised in air-conditioned halls for the convenience of candidates. Its duration was 3 hours and 30 minutes.

In Bannu and Abbottabad, due to non-availability of air-conditioned halls, portable marquees were imported from Lahore and installed there.

Foolproof security arrangements were made and the police department had created a security plan due to which the test was conducted in a very peaceful atmosphere and no complaint of disorder was received from anywhere.

According to PMDC, MDCAT-2023 was a paper-based exam, held single day at national and international venues through provincial public admitting universities supervised by the body.

PM&DC President Professor Dr Rizwan Taj said, “Students’ bright future is our top priority and PM&DC is working tirelessly to facilitate them.”

He said a total 180,534 students from Pakistan appeared in the MDCAT exam. Moreover, a total registered 180,151 candidates appeared in national venues. He added 382 candidates appeared at two international centres, 185 candidates in Dubai (UAE) and 197 candidates appeared in Saudi Arabia.

He elaborated that in the province of Punjab, 66,875, in Sindh 40,528, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 46,439, in Balochistan 9,230, in Gilgit 926, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir 4,036 and in Islamabad 12,118 candidates appeared in the exams.

He said that the MDCAT examination was conducted in 31 cities all over Pakistan to facilitate the maximum number of candidates.

These cities included Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Sialkot, DG Khan, Sargodha, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Karachi, Jamshoro, Dera Ismail Khan, Malakand, Nawabshah, Swat, Swabi, Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat, Bannu, Abbottabad, Quetta, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Haripur, Larkana, Mansehra, and Mirpur.

He added that special assistance has also been provided to a few candidates who required help (with special needs or handicaps) to fill out answer sheets. He said that to facilitate the candidates, a simple examination marking pattern is kept and no negative marking will be done on wrong answers. “I wish all these students add value to the medical profession and the country.”

The MDCAT results would be issued after around one week, a spokesperson of the Sindh Medical University said.

In Lahore, as many as 66,864 candidates including 45,121 females and 21,743 males appeared in the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT), which was conducted by the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Sunday.

UHS had engaged the services of 4,270 school and college teachers to perform duties as supervisory and invigilation staff, 225 superintendence and 355 deputy superintendence whereas senior faculty members of the university were deputed as head couriers and couriers to conduct the test. The vice-chancellors, pro-vice chancellors, principals, and senior faculty members of government medical institutions in relevant cities were deputed as regional in-charges to ensure successful conduct while officers of the Specialized Health Care and Medical Education department, deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners in relevant districts monitored the arrangements. Section 144 was imposed to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons at the examination centres, which were sealed at 09:00 am.

A large number of police personnel were deployed at the centres to prevent any disruption. Ambulances, medical teams, and fire brigades were also made available at the centres. Besides, closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras, mobile phone jammers, and walk-through gates were installed at major centres.

In Lahore, a total of 13,259 female and 5755 male candidates appeared in the test at the Government College University, University of Education Township, Lahore College for Women University, Government APWA College for Women, Divisional Public School Model Town, Government Queen Mary Graduate College, Divisional Public School Township, Government Graduate College for Women Township and Government Graduate College for Women, Gulberg.

Among several complaints, many students, whose centre was in Township, suffered because there is no such college as “Govt Girls College, Township” as given in their slips.

The Google search showed Govt College for Women, Township, Govt Degree College for Women, Township and Govt Graduate College for Women, Township.

Some students could not identify the college as they kept roaming in the locality in search of “Govt Girls College”. Students who came from other cities suffered more due to this anomaly. “Traffic management was also poor,” the students claimed.

Meanwhile, in Multan, 13,591 candidates appeared in the test. The number of candidates in Bahawalpur was 5,060, Faisalabad 7,528, Gujranwala 4,142, Sialkot 2,573, Sahiwal 3,707, Rawalpindi 3,335, Sargodha 3,123, Gujrat 1,727 and D.G. Khan 3,064 candidates appeared in the test.

Punjab Health Minister Professor Javed Akram and Secretary Health Ali Jan Khan visited various examination centres in Lahore.

The health minister said that UHS had made immaculate arrangements for the MDCAT. “All the candidates and their parents have been provided a comfortable environment”, Prof. Javed Akram said, adding that the exam started on time and would end on time. He further said that MDCAT was a tough competition and every effort had been made to uphold merit and transparency. Responding to a question, the provincial minister said the cost for conducting MDCAT was more than the money received by UHS for the purpose, so the Punjab cabinet had approved an additional grant of Rs1,000 per candidate for the university.

Later in the evening, just five hours after the test, UHS uploaded the answer key to the question paper on its website. With the help of this key, candidates can calculate their scores themselves. The official result will be declared in a week after which the admission schedule will be announced.

There are 3,376 MBBS seats in 16 public sector medical colleges and 240 BDS seats in 03 public dental colleges of Punjab. Besides, there are around 4,500 MBBS and 800 BDS seats in 45 private sector medical and dental colleges of the province.

Meanwhile, President Prof. Dr. Rizwan Taj personally visited examination centres in Islamabad, ensuring the highest standards of preparation and execution.