Friday, February 23, 2024

Resistance to self-financing, NRI med seats may snowball into a row

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-320 of the total 750 MBBS seats in 5 new medical colleges in AP to be covered under these two categories
-Student unions demand revocation of GOs 107 & 108, threaten to take legal recourse

DASARI SRINIVASA RAO
Vijayawada

The recent decision by the Andhra Pradesh government to introduce Self-Financing and Non-Resident Indian (NRI) category quota seats in newly established government medical colleges has generated a mix of opinions. The move, aimed at expanding medical education accessibility and addressing infrastructure expenses, has garnered both support and opposition. Concerns have emerged from various quarters, including parents and student unions, who highlight potential disparities and deviations from the established reservation framework.

The Self-Financing and NRI category quota seats have been designated in the newly established government medical colleges, with a total of 320 out of the sanctioned 750 MBBS seats across Machilipatnam, Eluru, Rajamahendravaram, Vizianagaram, and Nandyal Medical Colleges being allocated under these categories. The State government’s rationale behind this initiative lies in the creation of new government medical colleges (GMCs), adding 750 medical seats for Andhra Pradesh students starting from the 2023-24 academic year, supplementing the existing 2,135 seats.

However, dissenting voices from parents and student union leaders have arisen due to the implementation of the Self-Financing Scheme under Government Orders 107 and 108 in these new colleges. Critics argue that this scheme might disadvantage meritorious students and pose challenges to the established principles of a reservation system. The Dr. YSR University of Health Sciences (YSRUHS) has issued a notification to fill MBBS seats in all five new medical colleges for the current academic year.

Scheduled for inauguration later this month (August), the new medical colleges in Vizianagaram, Rajamahendravaram, Eluru, Machilipatnam, and Nandyal have received a sanctioned capacity of 150 MBBS seats each from the Medical Council of India (MCI). These seats will be available for admissions starting the 2023-24 academic year. The State government’s substantial investment of Rs 500 crore in each college aims to ensure infrastructure development in line with established standards. To offset these costs, the government has outlined a plan to allocate 50% of the MBBS seats from the remaining 85%, after setting aside 15% for the All India quota. The distribution will be facilitated through the Self-Financing Scheme and NRI quota.

To put this plan into action, the Health, Medical & Family Welfare Department has issued Government Orders 107 and 108, outlining the procedure and fee structure. As per these orders, the remaining 85% of MBBS seats are divided among the Competent Authority (General Category), Self-Financing, and NRI categories, after earmarking 15% of seats for the All India Quota.

In a more detailed breakdown, 85% of MBBS seats in each Government Medical College are further categorised into B and C category seats, mirroring the approach of private medical colleges. Within this allocation, 50% of the seats are designated for local candidates from specific regions of Andhra Pradesh, with an annual fee of Rs 15,000. An additional 35% of seats will be allocated by the Competent Authority through the Self-Financing Scheme, entailing a fixed annual fee of Rs 12 lakh for local candidates. The remaining 15% of seats for NRI candidates will have an annual fee of Rs 20 lakh.

It’s important to note that the rule of reservations exclusively applies to the Competent Authority (General Category) seats, exempting the Self-Financing and NRI categories. This distinct approach has sparked concerns among parents and student unions regarding the fairness of the new system in the five new medical colleges.

Opponents of this approach advocate for the allocation of all 638 MBBS seats through the Competent Authority, thereby ensuring adherence to the reservation framework. Deviation from this stance could potentially result in the loss of around 255 MBBS seats for meritorious students belonging to SC, ST, and BC categories.

Contrastingly, Dr. YSRUHS remains committed to implementing the filling of MBBS seats as per the two Government Orders. Each college will reserve 22 seats for the All India Quota, while the remaining 128 seats will be distributed among SC, ST, and BC categories through the Convener Quota. A notable development is the reclassification of 64 seats by the State government into B and C category seats.

Out of the total MBBS seats available across the five government colleges, 320 have been earmarked for the Self-Financing and NRI category quota. This allocation has sparked opposition from student unions, who are urging for a reconsideration of the two Government Orders and a return to a system that prioritizes the Competent Authority.

Dr. Korukonda Babji, Vice Chancellor of Dr. YSR University of Health Sciences (YSRUHS), told The Pioneer that the introduction of Self-Financing and NRI category seats aims to defray the State government’s infrastructure expenses in establishing the government medical colleges. He reassured that the implementation of this system will not hinder the prospects of meritorious students, claiming that the fees for these seats remain comparatively lower than those of private medical colleges.

However, M Sai Kumar, AISF State treasurer, voices criticism against what he perceives as the State government’s commercial approach to MBBS seats. Kumar highlights that out of the 750 MBBS seats designated for the new colleges, 320 have been allocated to Self-Financing and NRI categories, without adhering to the reservation principles. He underscored the union’s intention to explore legal avenues to ensure fair treatment for merit students belonging to SC, ST, and BC categories. Some parents have aligned with this stance, advocating for an allocation process similar to existing seats, overseen by the Competent Authority.

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