Deal mentions no deadline for refunding fees
KATHMANDU, Nov 28: Private medical colleges have agreed to return or readjust the illegal fees charged to MBBS and BDS students following threats of legal action by the government.
Following a late-night meeting on Tuesday, representatives of the government and private medical colleges signed a two-point understanding to refund the illegal fees collected from students over the past two years. The agreement came as the government was preparing to start legal action against the medical colleges.
“We are committed to implementing the fees structure endorsed by Nepal government for MBBS and BDS programs,” reads the statement issued by the organization of private medical colleges.
The fees collected in the academic year 2018-19 and 2019-20 would be refunded or readjusted from Wednesday, according to the agreement. No deadline has been given for the refund or readjustment.
The students from 2016-17 and 2017-18 batch would be refunded the overcharged fees based on the finding and recommendation of the to-be formed panel under the Medical Education Commission (MEC), according to the agreement.
Medical colleges have agreed to charge the fees prescribed by the government until the MEC revises the fees structure.
The agitating students announced to reject the agreement, saying the accord fails to adequately address their demands. They have threatened to continue protests until the medical colleges agree to refund fees illegally collected from nursing, BPH, pharmacy and BMIT students.
Anit Sinha, a representative of the agitating student, said that the agreement lacked substance as medical colleges had given similar assurances in the past also.
“But they haven’t yet refunded the money,” said Sinha. He questioned the rationale behind forming an investigation panel under MEC.
On Wednesday, eleven students of Birgunj-based National Medical College re-registered a complaint at the District Administration Office, demanding action against the college proprietor Basharuddin Ansari.
Student wings of various political parties have also rejected the agreement and described it as tactic to stop the protest.
“Call it whatever you like -- refund or readjustment, but a heap of illusions is being created by not specifying the deadline,” Samajbadi Student Union, a student wing of the ruling Samajbadi Party, has said in a statement.
Medical students and their guardians across the country have been protesting against the medical colleges demanding refund of overcharged fees. Student wings of major political parties including the ruling Nepal Communist Party have also expressed solidarity with the protest.
The medical colleges have been charging up to Rs 5.5 million from each student for MBBS course. The government had earlier fixed the MBBS fee at Rs 3.85 million for colleges operating inside the Kathmandu valley, and Rs 4.245 for colleges outside the valley.
A report of the National Vigilance Center (NVC), an anti-graft body under the Office of the Prime Minister, had concluded that the private medical colleges including the 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 despite making commitments in the past to refund the money have not done so. On Tuesday, they ignored a 24-hour ultimatum issued by the government.
The Nepal Association of Private Medical and Dental Colleges, an amalgam of private medical colleges, have been pressing the government to revise the number of seats for domestic and foreign students, fee structure and relax stringent rules for admission process.