No takers for new self-financing ayurveda colleges in Kerala
It does not come as a surprise as the existing 13 self-financing ISM colleges in the state have struggled to fill their seats.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The low demand for ayurveda, unani and Siddha courses has stalled the growth of self-financing colleges following the Indian systems of medicine (ISM) in Kerala.
In the last three years, there have been no applications for setting up new colleges even when other states, including neighbouring Karnataka, have ramped up their numbers. The stalemate comes at a time when efforts are being taken to project Kerala as a hub of ayurveda.
The National Commission For Indian System Of Medicine, the regulatory body for the education and practice of traditional healing methods, has given approval for setting up 83 new self-financing colleges for ayurveda in different states. Yet, Kerala does not even figure in the list, revealed an RTI filed by Kannur-based health activist Dr Babu K V.
It does not come as a surprise as the existing 13 self-financing ISM colleges in the state have struggled to fill their seats. There is a 60% vacancy for the BAMS undergraduate course this year. There are 476 ayurveda colleges in the country. The 47 new colleges approved in 2022-23 remain the largest addition to the list in the last three years.
“The demand for ISM courses was low across the country this year,” said Dr K Thulaseedharan Nair, president of the Kerala State Indian Systems of Medicine Self-Financing College Management Association (KISMA).
Seats were fully occupied till ’20, 30% vacant in ’21
“Kerala faced the worst demand mainly due to the delay in admission procedures and restrictions in admitting students from outside the state to ayurveda courses,” said Dr K Thulaseedharan Nair, who is also the director of Mannam Ayurveda Co-operative Medical College, Pandalam. He pointed out that the situation was different till 2020 when the seats were fully occupied, and 30% of students were on the waiting list. The decline began in 2021.
While colleges in other states managed to fill vacant seats, colleges in Kerala saw a vacancy of 30% in 2021. KISMA primarily blames the lengthy admission process for the delay. It pointed out that the admission for this year’s batch was closed only on March 4. “The students do not wait for long. Earlier, they used to go to colleges in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
But these states also had 50% vacancy this time,” said Dr Thulaseedharan. Education experts and KISMA realised that students are increasingly worried about the job prospects of ISM courses. “Many are unwilling to pay Rs 2.5 lakh a year for a BAMS course as there are genuine concerns about employment and remuneration,” he said.
According to Dr Babu, the low demand for ISM courses could be because the younger generation in the state is opting for a career in more evidence-based medicine. KISMA has decided to hold a meeting on March 21 to discuss the future of self-financing colleges and approach the government for policy changes.