Published: 20th September 2020
Stuck between a rock and a hard place: Parents, students protest high fees at ‘hybrid’ Govt Erode Medical college
In 2020, the name of the college was officially changed to Government Erode Medical College which made a lot of parents and students happy because they expected similar fee structure
When Snehan* and his family entered the gates of IRT Medical College for his admission, they didn’t mind paying the high fees. The family had been informed that the college would be converted into a government institution and so they were happy that they would soon be paying the fees that other government colleges charged. This was the belief that many others who enrolled this year and the existing students, in the now renamed Government Erode Medical College, had as well. But despite running from pillar to post, candidates have continued to pay the same high fees.
“This the is most expensive government medical college in the state,” Nagarajan*, a father says. The Institute of Road and Transport Perundurai Medical College was established in 1992 and as the name suggests was established under the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation - this meant that 30 percent of the seats were allotted to children of Transport employees. Then, when the government decided to take the college under its wing in 2018, it moved the college from the Transport Department to the Health and Family Welfare Department. In the Government Order, it is stated that the college was being handed over to the Department since the State Transport Undertaking is extremely weak and that they are now unable to contribute effectively to the ongoing expenditure of the institute.
In respect to the fees, the 2018 GO stated, “The IRT Medical College and Hospital is collecting a sum of Rs 3.85 lakh per annum per seat for both the management quota seats as well as the government quota seats surrendered to the state government. As in a Hybrid model, even after handing over to the State Government it will run as one among the Government Medical Colleges in the above lines with a similar enhanced fee structure as determined from time to time.”
In 2020, the name of the college was officially changed to Government Erode Medical College which made a lot of parents and students happy. While the final years are currently paying 2.8 lakh per year, their juniors are playing 3.85 lakh per year, excluding the hostel fees. A regular government college in any other part of Tamil Nadu charges about 12,500 rupees as college fees and 4,000 rupees as hostel fees.
In their letter to the Chief Minister, the students say that many who join the college come from very poor backgrounds, from rural areas and are the sons and daughters of farmers and therefore, cannot afford to pay the fees. “Passing NEET itself is a huge hurdle and even after they manage to crack that, they have to worry about being able to afford these fees,” they said. The administration has told the students that the matter is out of their hands and that it is up to to the government and that they are only following the guidelines that the state has set for them.
Nagaraj says that since the name of the college was changed, anyone who opts to study here would assume that they would be paying the fees of a regular government college. “My son just got one mark less and got his admission here. But we didn’t mind because we knew the fee structure would change. Now if the government expects us to pay the same amount for the rest of the years, where will we go for the money?” the desperate father asks. He has been at the forefront of the protests against the fees, “I have got to every single person I know who has the power to help me. The Directorate of Medical Health, the Health Secretary and personally met the Chief Minister as well to consider our plea. I have done everything in my might to get this changed. But everyone just tells me that they will see what they can do, otherwise there has been no response,” he explained.
The Tamil Nadu Medical Students’ Association, in a statement, requested the state government to implement the same fees in Erode Medical College as they have in other government colleges. “It is unfortunate that the government has said that the COllege will function in the Hybrid Model. We request that no medical college that is state-owned be operated as a hybrid model.”
Nagaraj said that he is going to wait for a response for the government for a little longer, “If we don’t hear anything from them then we will have to approach the High Court. We have no other choice because we simply cannot afford such high fees for our children”