EDITORIAL: Start admission

It is frustrating to see a large number of students returning from abroad unable to pass the Nepal Medical Council exams

The wrangling between the government and promoters of private medical colleges over the excessive fees charged by the latter has cost both of them very dear, what with Nepali students joining foreign medical colleges by the drove. This has happened largely because of the delay in admission to the bachelor level courses in medicine and dentistry this year, which should have been completed by October. Had the admissions taken place as in the previous years, students would have been weeks into the course. This year more than 700 students have gone abroad for the MBBS and BDS courses, and many more could be joining them in countries like China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, among others. Given the expenses involved in studying medicine, it is a colossal drain on the country’s foreign exchange earnings. According to the Nepal Medical Council, 478 students had gone abroad to study medicine in 2016 and a similar number in the following years. There are about 20 medical colleges, affiliated mostly to Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University. Most of them are run by the private sector.

While the growth of medical colleges should have been a cause for celebration, as Nepal is no longer dependent on foreign countries to train its doctors and nurses, the growing commercialisation of medical education has been unnerving for both the parents and the government. In their wild pursuit of making a quick buck by targeting solely those who can pay, quality in education has been largely compromised. So the government last year capped the fees for the MBBS undergraduate course at Rs 3.85 million in the Kathmandu Valley and Rs 4.24 million outside. For this fiscal, the fee for the MBBS course has been revised to Rs 4.02 million for Nepali students in Kathmandu’s medical colleges and to Rs 4.44 million for colleges outside the capital. The medical colleges have, however, been objecting to this provision and demanding they be allowed to charge more and also admit more students in both medicine and dental faculties. The private colleges have refused to reimburse the extra fees already charged from students, despite their pledge to do so.

It is an irony that students should have to opt for foreign medical colleges when there are institutes galore in the country. Their education is going to cost a fortune, but there is no guarantee that they will return home with the knowledge and skills required to treat the sick. It is frustrating to see a large number of students returning from abroad unable to pass the Nepal Medical Council exams required to practise medicine in the country. The medical colleges must abide by the Medical Education Act and the decision of the Cabinet last year regarding the fees and scholarships. By delaying the admissions for this year, maybe the colleges are thinking they are piling pressure on the government, with the belief that it will blink first. The government must, however, not yield to undue pressure. Hopefully, the colleges will see reason and start admission at the earliest. Any delay in admission will only hinder the timely completion of the undergraduate courses, which take five-and-a-half years to finish.

VNY 2020 begins

The much touted Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020 has begun from today, and various events related to it will be held throughout the year. The VNY secretariat said all preparations for the gala have been completed. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari is all set to inaugurate the VNY2020 today at the newly-renovated Dashrath Stadium to be attended by the who’s who. VNY 2020 will also be officially launched in all the seven provinces simultaneously.

The main objective of the event is to make the world known that Nepal is one of the most popular tourist destinations and also to inform that Nepal is a suitable country for foreign direct investment. The government has set a target of attracting two million foreign tourists in the year 2020, which will also help achieve the goal of building a “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali”. It has also set a target of declaring the coming decade as tourism decade within six months to give a boost to the economy. However, merely making slogans is not enough. We also need to upgrade our infrastructure and complete our tourism-related projects such as the Gautam Buddha Airport on time so that more and more tourists can arrive via air without much hassle. Our goal should be to make our guests happy with the best of services.