Foreign students’ admission PMDC ‘faces pressure’ to bend rules

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Foreign students’ admission: PMDC ‘faces pressure’ to bend rules
LAHORE, Jan 1: The embassies of some ‘friendly’ countries have exerted pressure on the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council through Economic Affairs Division (EAD) to end the condition of entrance test or scholastic aptitude test part-II (SAT-II) for their students with ‘rudimentary background in English language’ for admission to state-run medical institutions.

The admissions were sought under Pakistan Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) for 2011-12 session.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs & Statistics (Economic Affairs Division) oversees the admissions of foreign students to the disciplines of medicine and dentistry at graduate level under PTAP.

The embassies of theses countries for the first time expressed their reservations over the SAT-II condition implemented by PMDC for admissions to state-run medical and dental institutions for their students being citizens of non-English speaking countries, according to the documents available with Dawn.

Constant interference of the EAD and Prime Minister’s Secretariat in the matters relating to admissions of foreign students under PTAP may jeopardise the medical education standard, analyst believe.

The EAD had managed to get 63 students of some 19 countries admitted to local colleges for the session 2010-11 by seeking one-time relaxation of entrance test or SAT-II condition last year.

But, now the Division has asked the PMDC for waiving off the condition for the students of all those countries with whom Pakistan was enjoying cordial relations as they were unable to compete for professional studies due to their poor English.

The EAD opened Pandora’s Box with regard to admission criteria when it endorsed the viewpoint of these countries and communicated the same to the PMDC and heads of various medical institutions last month.

It also sent some fresh admission nominations for the session 2011-12, asking the authorities concerned to wave off the condition, which is in clear violation of PMDC Regulations of 2003 and 2010.

The Division has nominated total 55 candidates from some 17 countries for 2011-12 session on November 25 and later on December 9, 2011, issuing their names and the institutions against which the admissions were sought. The non-English speaking countries include Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bahrain, etc.

In 2010, the Punjab government while granting for the first time the one-time permission to 63 students had categorically conveyed to the PMDC, EAD and other authorities concerned about its decision to ensure implementation of the PMDC’s admission criteria onwards.

“EAD and the HEC may be asked to ensure, in future, that all foreign candidates fulfill the conditions laid down in the prospectus before nominating them for admissions to public sector medical/dental colleges of Punjab. EAD and HEC should devise their own mechanism to widely disseminate the eligibility conditions for admission of foreign students in MBBS/BDS through Pakistani embassies in other countries and also to advertise these in international media,” the official communiqué read.

“It would be more appropriate that HEC and EAD get the eligibility of these candidates verified by UHS before finalising their nomination. It must be made abundantly clear to them that Admission Board for Medical/Dental Institutions of the Punjab shall not entertain and candidate who does not fulfill basic minimum requirements for admission, including Entrance Test/SAT-II examination, as stipulated in the prospectus of the same session and the PMDC Regulations 2003 and 2010”.

However, ignoring all the previous warnings and recommendations, the EAD ‘directed’ the UHS admission board chairman and heads of 14 other state-run medical and dental institutions of the country, “We have written to PMDC requesting for waiving off the condition of SAT-II because all the beneficiary countries under PTAP have expressed their concern about this test”.

Of these 17 countries, the PMDC has exempted students of Afghanistan from SAT-II examination on the intervention of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani holding them eligible for admission to government medical institutions for the 2011-12 session.
The decision on the matters of other countries was under consideration.

Considering the EAD’s constant interference in the admission matters as an ‘excess’, the UHS had categorically refused to compromise on the minimum admission criteria set by the PMDC, a source said.

Last week, the source said, the UHS refused to issue no objection certificate (NOC) to a female Turkish student admitted to Fatima Jinnah Medical College (FJMC), Lahore, for neither appearing in the entrance test, nor qualifying SAT-II exam. She was nominated among the other students by the EAD for admission, he said.

PMDC president Prof Dr Sibtul Hasnain dispelled the impression that the Council was giving any undue favour to the foreign students under PTAP. He said the PMDC in its last meeting held in December had relaxed the admission rules for Afghan students only on prime minister’s directions.

PMDC Registrar Ahmad Nadeem Akbar said that being ‘supreme body’ the general council (of the PMDC) had the authority to relax the rules as it did in the case of Afghan students. He confirmed these students were considered for admission on prime minister’s direction.

“We are ready to give more such relaxations if the prime minister directs us to do so”, he said. Dawn

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