A private medical college in Lucknow has set a record of sorts by fixing the fees for a five-year MBBS course at a whopping Rs 1.2 crore. While it is generally known that private medical education in India is expensive, with fees ranging from Rs 30-35 lakh to over Rs 50 lakh, the Lucknow college surpassed this average by more than two times. As news of this exorbitant fee structure spread, many took to social media to express their outrage. But the college is unlikely to be fazed by these voices of anger and concern.
While there are several reasons why private medical education is so expensive, one of the main reasons is the lack of government medical colleges. Every year, a mere 15,000 seats are available in various government institutes as against more than five lakh aspirant doctors. The fees in government colleges is much lower, making it tough to get a seat there. Private colleges with profit as the motive have been exploiting this. Many students are forced to look for cheaper destinations abroad. Countries such as China, Russia, Ukraine, Philippines and Nepal have become popular destinations for aspiring doctors as the cost can be less than half of what private institutes here charge. They flock to these nations though they know they have to go through a tough screening test with a very low qualification percentage, before earning the right to practice in India.
Given such a situation and the depressed job market, it is perhaps time the government steps in to stop this blatant exploitation. Many states such as Maharashtra, which abounds in private educational institutions, have set up a regulatory authority to keep a check on rapacious business houses. Every year the authority fixes the fee hike and private institutes follow the guidelines. In the meantime the government must invest more in the education sector, setting up more affordable colleges while not discouraging the private sector. A healthy competition between state and private institutes will only lift the quality of education in India.