Kerala: Pharm D colleges flout quota rules

Each college admits students to all seats at its own discretion and charging hefty tuition fee.

THIRUVANNANTHAPURAM: For nearly six years, Pharm.D colleges have been a law unto themselves, flouting their commitment to earmark 50 per cent seats as government quota, to be filled through a common entrance test. Most of these colleges are going ahead with plans to “sell” all seats this year too, defying attempts by the LDF government to clean up professional colleges.

Unlike other self-financing medical and engineering colleges, which have inked agreements with the state government for apportioning 50 per cent seats under merit quota, Pharm.D colleges ignore the commitment made to the state government while seeking its NOC and approval. All of them, barring Amrita College of Pharmacy, had secured the government NOC and approval on several conditions, including 50 per cent for government quota. Such NOC and government approval are mandatory prior to the Pharmacy Council of India nod.
The Pharm.D (doctor of pharmacy) course of six years, with one year internship, is now the most sought-after degree for entry level jobs in the pharmacy sector, even at the global level. Kerala has 16 colleges, including Amrita College of Pharmacy, affiliated to the deemed Amrita University. All other colleges are affiliated to Kerala University of Health Sciences.

However, colleges allege that the previous ministry was least interested in ensuring 50 per cent government quota through a common entrance test, under the Admission Supervisory/Fee Regulatory Committee for Professional Colleges, headed by Justice J.M. James. Says Kerala State Self-Financing Pharmacy College Management Association president Prem Krishnan: “We had tried for an agreement with the government during the last two years, but the government was not interested in securing half the seats for merit quota and directed us to maintain status quo”.

Status quo implies each college admitting students to all 30 seats at its own discretion and charging hefty tuition fee of nearly Rs 2 lakh. There are allegations that many colleges collect capitation fees in the range of Rs 5 to Rs 15 lakh, exploiting the demand for the niche course. However, these very same colleges also run B Pharm and M Pharm, adhering to the common merit list for admissions and leaving aside 50 per cent as government quota.

Another complaint is that students do not get adequate exposure through internship at minimum 400-bed hospitals as mentioned in the syllabus and there is an acute shortage of qualified teachers, making a mockery of the mandatory three-tier teaching staff pattern (professor, associate and assistant professor) at Pharm.D colleges. Justice James told this newspaper that his priority was to streamline major segments of self-financing colleges. “Tackling everything at one go is impossible and destined to be counterproductive. He admitted that there was much to be rectified in the pharmacy colleges,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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