Medical colleges refuse to refund overcharged fees

Published On: November 27, 2019 07:42 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Say they can adjust the amounts in fees for coming years
KATHMANDU, Nov 27: Medical colleges on Tuesday refused to refund the illegal fees taken from students flouting an ultimatum issued by the government on Monday.

On Monday, the government had issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the medical colleges across the country to refund the money.

During a meeting with Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel at his office on Tuesday, representatives of the Association of Private Medical and Dental Colleges of Nepal, an umbrella body of private medical colleges, said they won’t refund the fees for academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20, citing practical hassles in the financial reconciliation, accounting and taxation.

In a memorandum submitted to Minister Pokharel, representatives of medical colleges have said that it was not possible to return the money as they had already settled the accounts and even paid bonuses to their staffers. However, the medical colleges still appear positive to adjust the overcharged fees in the coming academic years.

Following the meeting with Pokharel, Suresh Kumar Kanodia of Nepalgunj Medical College told reporters that the problem had surfaced due to delays in implementing the fee structure set by a government-formed committee to review fees three years ago.  

Kedarnath Sharma, spokesman of the Ministry of Home Affairs, said that the ministry would take legal action against the medical colleges after consultation with other stakeholders. It is unclear what the action would entail. It also remains unclear what government would do now to calm the agitating medical students.

For months, MBBS and MD students and their parents in Chitwan and Birgunj among other places have been protesting against the medical colleges demanding refund of the illegal fees.

The medical colleges have been charging up to Rs 5.5 million from each student for five-year MBBS course. The government has prohibited the colleges from charging above Rs 3.85 million inside Kathmandu Valley, and Rs 4.245 outside Kathmandu Valley for MBBS course.

A report of the National Vigilance Center (NVC), an anti-graft body under the Office of the Prime Minister, had concluded that private medical colleges including Birgunj-based National Medical College, Universal College of Bhairahawa, Gandaki Medical College of Pokhara and Chitwan Medical College had illegally collected at least Rs 3 billion from students in the last academic session. 

Medical colleges have repeatedly ignored calls from government agencies and parliamentary committees to return the fees. They accuse the government of introducing various regulations against the spirit of the Medical Education Act in an attempt to destroy the medical education system. Last month, the medical colleges had jointly urged the government to allocate standard quotas for domestic and foreign students, fee structure and admission process giving due respect to rules and regulations.

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