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Dhaka Tribune

Med schools make millions unlawfully

Update : 30 Oct 2013, 04:36 AM

Some of the private medical and dental colleges in the country are allegedly making millions of takas illegally by admitting local students in seats reserved for foreign students.

There are allegations that these colleges are taking advantage of the provision that they can admit local students in the vacant reserved seats.

According to existing regulations, the private medical and dental colleges can admit foreign students in up to 25% of their individual seats.

But while admitting local students in the reserved seats, the colleges must make sure that they do not charge the local students as much as they do the foreign ones.

The private medical colleges charge each foreign student around $40,000-$50,000 (Tk3.1m-Tk3.9m) as tuition fees.

On the other hand, they charge Bangladeshi students initial enrolment fees ranging from Tk1m to Tk2m and monthly tuition fees of Tk5,000-Tk15,000.

The Dhaka Tribune has learnt that a Dhanmondi-based private medical college in the capital has recently admitted a local student for a payment of Tk5.4m in a seat that was reserved for foreign students.

The college, in order to make sure that its name was not tarnished for doing illegal business, reportedly gave the student a voucher for only Tk2.5m.

Seeking anonymity, an official of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told the Dhaka Tribune that it was just one of many such cases.

The Dhaka Tribune has also learnt that neither the DGHS nor the health ministry have any reliable statistic about how many foreign students are actually admitted in the reserved seats every year.

Source said although the colleges were supposed to let the ministry know about the number of foreign students admitted, none of them actually provides the information.

DGHS Director (medical education) Dr ABM Abdul Hannan failed to come up with the information every time on the several occasions that he was contacted in the last few days.

According to the DGHS, there are currently 54 private medical and dental colleges in the country with a combined accommodation of 1,900. However, these colleges have only managed to admit only 400 students during the previous academic year (2012-2013).

The Dhaka Tribune has recently ran a story which had said the private medical and dental colleges has been trying to pursue the government to raise the number of reserved seats for foreign students.

For making the final decision about the request, the health ministry is scheduled to sit in a meeting today. Health Minister AFM Ruhal Haque is likely to preside over that meeting.

There has been rumours that the Bangladesh Private Medical College Association has proposed hefty bribes to the health ministry officials for raising the percentage of seats reserved for foreign students.

Figures show that apart from a select few, most medical and dental colleges cannot attract foreign students. The top colleges get a lot more applications from foreign students compared to their capacities. But they cannot admit more than 25% of their total seats although there is demand, depriving the country of significant amount of foreign currency.

The money that a foreign student pays in US Dollars for enrolling in a medical or dental college is considered export revenue for Bangladesh.

Professionals said the government should encourage and take steps for admitting more foreign students in these colleges.

But, they said, there was no point in raising the quota when most of the capacity still goes unused. They said raising the quota would only benefit a handful of colleges.

BPMCA President Dr Moazzem Hossain recently told the Dhaka Tribune that last year they had failed to admit satisfactory number of foreign students because of the bureaucracy’s failure. This year, however, they organised medical education fair in three countries and hope to enrol a lot of more foreign students.

When asked about the drive to raise the quota, Dr Moazzem said the money that the foreign students pay was important for the smooth operation of the colleges. Moreover, they add to the revenue of the country as well. 

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