Published: 06th October 2017
Is this a private med college or a government one? How non-existent professors and 'private' fee rates pushed medicos at Rajah Muthiah Medical College to protest for 40 days and counting
Students at the Rajah Muthiah Medical College of Annamalai University have been on a protest for 40 days but the government hasn't blinked an eye yet. What will happen to them next?
Over 600 students from the Rajah Muthiah Medical College of Annamalai University have been protesting for 40 days now against the illegal and exorbitant fees the College is charging. What's the big deal, you may ask? The University was set up in 1985 and the medical college taken over by the Government in 2013 after an investigative committee found that there were severe financial irregularities in the administration. The VC at that point, M Ramanathan, was also suspended by the then Governor, K Rosaiah.
However, despite becoming a government college, RMMC allegedly continues to demand exorbitant fees and has made no effort to follow the rules set for government medical colleges.
Gross Violation of Rights
The fixed fees for an undergraduate course in a government medical college is Rs 13,000 while the RMMC charges Rs 5 lakhs. The fees for a postgraduate course in a government medical college is Rs 32,000 but they charge Rs 9 lakhs. For BDS, the government colleges charge Rs 11,500 as opposed to Rs 3.5 lakhs charged here. What is all the more surprising is that the college does not even seem to be following the fee limits set for self-financing colleges either, which is Rs 3 lakhs for MBBS.
When the students have demanded that the college accept fees that are prescribed by the government, the administration claims that the college syndicate is allowed to prescribe whatever the fees they decide on.
When the students have demanded that the college accept fees that are prescribed by the government, the administration claims that the college syndicate is allowed to prescribe whatever the fees they decide on. "This is a gross violation of our rights as students in this college. We are being told that it is a government institute but are being charged such high fees. This, despite the fact that it has been announced in the Secretariat that the college is a Government College. It was also mentioned as one of the Government colleges in the counselling sessions this year," one of the students leading the protest, said.
'Ghost' professors who don't take class
However, what is a more pressing problem for the students is that there are barely any faculty members in the college. "Less than 20 percent teachers are there in all of the college. Recently 73 postgraduate seats were cancelled because the faculty members were below the MCI prescribed numbers. That could easily happen to the MBBS courses too. Finally, the government will derecognise the college and then where will we go?" another student questioned. "The administration has 'ghost' professors so they mention them and fulfill the requirements of the MCI but what do I do? Who will teach me?" questioned the student.
RTI reveals 200 crores funds allocated
According to an RTI query filed by the students, the government is allocating more than 200 crores to the college but where is the money going, students ask. "We have no faculty or any facilities. Besides fees, medical colleges cum hospitals should also offer free services and medicines for the public but even that hasn't happened here. A patient can't even get a paracetamol for free at this hospital," a student said.
Striving for justice: The students are not giving up on the struggle any time soon
Hospital facilities poorer than primary health care centre
Students say that the hospital doesn't offer any super speciality services for the patients either because they have no doctors. "This is probably the only government hospital that doesn't have any super speciality doctors. All we do is refer patients, the facilities at the hospital are poorer than a primary care centre. So our hospital is pretty much empty too," the student said.
Rajesh (name changed) was admitted to the college in 2015 but only realised it was a government college after he joined, "We paid the fees and then found out. After that, the parents of the students filed a case in court but the High Court said that the college is not a State University. The government didn't even appeal that verdict when it should have. Now the case is pending in Supreme Court." Another issue hindering the problem-solving process is the fact that this medical college comes under the Higher Education ministry rather than the Health and Family Welfare ministry like other medical colleges. "Since it is a University, it comes under the Higher Education ministry despite it being overtaken by the government. This causes trouble again."
Protest to go on
A number of problems plague the college but what really scares the students is the fear of the college getting derecognised. "We don't want to end up on the roads. If there was so much trouble we should have never been sent here through counselling in the first place," an undergraduate student said.
The students plan to continue the protests till the Government take action against the administration for their fraudulent practices and declare that Annamalai college is a government institute. "The only way we can solve this is if the government takes full charge and runs the institute. We have to continue the protest till that happens," the student added.