Saturday July 20, 2024

Over 1,200 students illegally enrolled at 15 medical, dental colleges: NHS

By M. Waqar Bhatti
June 22, 2024
Pakistan Medical & Dental Council building can be seen in this image. — APP/File
Pakistan Medical & Dental Council building can be seen in this image. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The future of over 1,200 medical and dental students is uncertain as they are studying at 15 medical and dental colleges across Pakistan not authorized by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to admit new students for the 2023-24 academic session, officials said on Friday.

“Despite clear instructions from the PMDC to these 15 medical and dental colleges not to admit new students for the current (2023-24) academic session, they violated the directives and enrolled over 1,200 students who are now studying illegally at these institutions,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHS, RR&C) told The News.

The NHS official claimed that these 15 colleges were ‘provisionally recognized and allowed admissions’ by the erstwhile Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) for the academic sessions 2019-20 and 2020-21 but they also admitted students for the previous 2022-2023 session. “Last year in June 2023, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) wrote letters to these 15 medical and dental colleges clearly instructing them not to admit any students for the current 2023-24 session until inspections of these institutions were conducted and decisions regarding their full recognition were made. However, these colleges violated PMDC directives and granted admissions, which are illegal and in violation of the PMDC directives,” the NHS official added.

He said after violating the PMDC directives and admitting students illegally, these medical and dental colleges approached the PMDC and requested it to open its online portal so that the details of the admitted students could be uploaded to the database. This request was turned down by the PMDC authorities. “Some of these 15 medical and dental colleges were inspected by the PMDC last year but the recognition of these colleges is pending due to deficiencies in mandatory legal, financial, and other regulations under the PMDC regulations,” the NHS official further informed.

The health ministry official claimed that an internal inquiry conducted by the PMDC found that some senior officials of the PMDC, including two former registrars, two section officers, and a chief legal officer, were involved in severe irregularities in recognition/re-recognition of these 15 medical and dental colleges and recommended the termination of their services.

When asked why these medical colleges were not granted full recognition, the official said that upon inspections by the PMDC teams, it emerged that these colleges had not fulfilled several legal, financial, and other regulatory formalities, which included insufficient faculty, poor teaching facilities, lack of a teaching hospital, and lack of required financial capital.

When approached and asked why 15 medical and dental colleges were not allowed to admit students for the session 2023-24, PMDC President Prof. Rizwan Taj said these colleges had to ‘pass inspection’ like any other medical and dental college and added that the Federal Investigation Agency is investigating the issue. “These colleges were issued provisional recognition in 2020 by the then Pakistan Medical Commission. The Federal Investigation Agency is now conducting the investigation into this issue,” he added. An official of FIA’s Anti-Corruption Circle, Islamabad said they were probing the illegal, provisional recognition, restoration, and re-recognition of 18 medical and dental colleges carried out by the PMDC and former PMC.