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UHS Puts the Future of 400 Medical Students in Punjab at Risk

The future of nearly 400 students is at risk due to a dispute between two private medical and dental colleges and the University of Health Sciences (UHS). The former allegedly rejected the Punjab government’s central admission policy for MBBS/BDS in both public and private sector medical institutions of the province.

After Azra Naheed Medical College and Azra Naheed Dental College rejected the 200 students [admitted by the UHS] to enrol in their schools in violation of government policy, the situation became more complicated.

Both establishments are constituent colleges of Lahore’s Superior University.

There have been rumours that the aforementioned colleges separately admitted 200 students in apparent violation of the rules.

Out of Punjab’s 49 private sector colleges, these two were the only ones to reject the government policy and accept applications for 150 MBBS and 50 BDS seats.

Senior medical professionals expressed concern that if the central admission policy was strictly adhered to, the students who were admitted separately by the two colleges might not be able to register for their profession, which could potentially jeopardise their future prospects.

In a similar vein, they claimed that because the 200 additional students accepted by the UHS are still awaiting admission to the two institutes, their futures are also in jeopardy.

According to a top official, the Punjab government has formed an influential committee and given the chief secretary instructions to convene meetings in order to find a solution.

The Punjab caretaker health minister, the vice chancellor of UHS, the secretaries of law, health, and higher education commission, as well as other officers, attended the committee’s inaugural meeting, which was presided over by the chief secretary. The pro-rector, dean, and principal of each of the constituent colleges served as representatives of the private university.

The Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) is the primary regulatory body for medical and dental education in Pakistan, and Section 17(3) of Act ibid gives provincial governments the authority to choose which applicants to admit to public and private medical and dental colleges in accordance with their respective governments’ policies. These facts were shared with the CS by the UHS VC and government representatives during the meeting.

Dawn also had copies of the pertinent PMDC and Punjab Health Department documents, as well as the UHS presentation that was made during the meeting.

The meeting was informed that on September 27, 2023, the caretaker cabinet of Punjab approved and notified the admission policy for MBBS and BDS for the session 2023.

The UHS has been authorised by the policy to handle Punjabi public and private college admissions for MBBS and BDS.

The Punjab government subsequently designated the UHS as the “admitting university” on July 5, 2023, in order to administer the MDCAT (Medical and Dental College Admission Test) for the 2023–2024 academic year.

The document states that 10,397 applications were received for 4,000 MBBS seats in 32 private medical colleges and 1,025 BDS seats in 17 private dental colleges in Punjab after the UHS advertised admission to both private and public sector colleges.

The Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI), a group that represents private sector colleges nationwide, launched a campaign against centralised admissions in Punjabi private sector colleges shortly after the admission policy was announced.

Nonetheless, it stated that the MDCAT 2023, which drew a total of 65,221 candidates, was effectively held in Punjab on September 10 of last year.

Following the procedure, on January 8, 2024, as per the announced schedule, the first college-by-college selection list for private sector institutions was made public.

In all, 200 candidates were assigned to Azra Naheed Dental College and Azra Naheed Medical College in Lahore (150 MBBS and 50 BDS).

The college administrations rejected these candidates’ applications for admission.

The UHS approved the addition of 104 candidates from the first list, 127 from the second list that was released on January 15, and 143 from the third list that was released on January 22, 2024, in order to defend the rights of these deserving candidates.

According to the document, the UHS sent letters on January 9, 11, 18, 19, and 25 to the PMDC and the Punjab Health Department, informing them of the issue on a continuous basis.

The Punjab government is faced with a challenge as a result of the 200 candidates’ admission to Azra Naheed Medical College and Azra Naheed Dental College. The UHS informed the meeting that an immediate decision regarding the students’ fate is therefore required.

However, the Superior University disregarded the claims, claiming that UHS had broken both the PMDC Act of 2022 and the PMDC Regulations of 2023.

According to a representative of the private university, this violation is being perceived as a violation of the “central induction policy,” which is defined as an abuse of authority directed towards establishments that scrupulously follow the PMDC Regulations 2023 and Act 2022.

He stated that Azra Naheed Dental College and Azra Naheed Medical College complied fully with the policies established by their affiliated university, Superior University, Lahore, as well as the requirements specified in the PMDC Act and PMDC regulations.

In accordance with section 4(5) of the PMDC regulations of 2023, both colleges dutifully completed the required formalities and, with the university’s admission committee’s approval, published comprehensive guidelines, including the fee structure, on their websites on September 1, 2023.

In compliance with Section 5(5) of the regulations, applications were accepted after the MDCAT result was announced.

He also mentioned that on September 10, 2023, the online application portal opened. With 590 applications received for the MBBS programme, the response was noteworthy. Each candidate was required to pass the admission test, which was held on September 30, 2023, in accordance with the standards of the affiliating university, Superior University, and in accordance with section 17(3) of the PMDC Act 2022.

The test was taken by 439 candidates in total. Then, from December 18 to December 20, interviews were held to evaluate the candidates’ resilience and mental alertness. A total of 321 candidates participated in the interviews.

According to the PMDC criteria mentioned above in paragraph 4 (section 5(10) of the regulations), the admission committee created a list of all successful applicants for the admission test. Before January 15, 2024, the provisional merit list of 260 candidates was published in accordance with Section 5(10) of the regulations, out of the 150 available seats.

The spokesperson stated, “We adhered to Section 17(3) of the PMDC Act 2022 and Section 3(2), 4(5), 4(8), and 5 of the PMDC regulations of 2023 in our admissions process.”

He continued, “The admissions process is now complete, and this transaction has passed and is closed.” He also mentioned that 150 medical students and 50 BDS students had been accepted into the college and were continuing their studies; the list of these students is attached.

“Note that our colleges are not affiliated with or constituent colleges of UHS, and that Superior University is our legal affiliating university, so it should be noted that we bear no responsibility for admissions conducted by UHS,” the spokesman asserts.

Furthermore, there is no accountability on the part of private universities because none of the applicants that UHS was promoting finished the admissions process, which included completing online portal applications and appearing in admissions exams and interviews.

It is also important to note that UHS did not adhere to this procedure and repeatedly altered the merit lists under the pretence of upgrading or transferring candidates between colleges by creating fictitious lists against the seats of Azra Naheed Dental College and Azra Naheed Medical College.

Both organisations have invited applications online through a transparent application process.

According to the private university’s spokesperson, students who did not apply through the official portal or take part in the admissions exams of the relevant colleges are also ineligible to apply for admission.

Muhammad Imran
Muhammad Imran
I am an experienced content writer with a passion for crafting engaging and impactful content across various platforms. Skilled in audience research, storytelling, and SEO optimization. I am proficient in creating clear, concise, and compelling copy that resonates with readers. Strong ability to adapt tone and style to suit diverse audiences and brand voices. Dedicated to delivering high- quality content that drives results and enhances brand visibility.

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