The decision by the Karnataka government to allow an increase of fees for medical and dental seats in private colleges for the academic year 2020-21 has irked aspiring students. Earlier this week, the fee for government quota seats in private colleges was raised by 15% which amounts to a hike of fee from Rs 1,11,952 to Rs 1,28,746 (hike of Rs 16,794) for MBBS seats and from Rs 72,484 Rs to Rs 83,356 for dental seats.
For institutional seats, the fee is raised by 25% which amounts to a hike of fee from Rs 7,85,565 to Rs 9,81,956 (hike of Rs 1,96,391) for MBBS seats and from 5,32,818Rs to 6,66,023Rs for dental seats. This decision has come at a time when many people have lost their jobs or have received a reduced pay due to the pandemic and many students particularly in the low income and rural sections have been forced to quit education and joined jobs to support their families.
“Many people I know from economically poor backgrounds are very passionate about studying medicine but because of this fee hike they will definitely not be able to opt for medical, they will have to settle for other courses like engineering or some other paramedical course,” said Hemanth P, a medical aspirant based in Bengaluru. He further added, “In case I don’t get a seat in a government college I'll have to take an education loan as my family can’t afford the cost.”
Another medical aspirant, Harshita also expressed her disappointment.“I’m very passionate about medicine but if I don’t get a government seat I’ll not be able to afford medical education with this fee hike. Not just me, anybody from middle class families can’t bear such a cost and ultimately I'll have to give up the field,” she said.
Many student organizations have also opposed this move.
Ajay Kamath, the state secretary of AIDSO said that the move of the government is anti-student and anti-people. “During this pandemic we witnessed the shortage of doctors in the country and it showed us that a lot more doctors are needed. In this circumstance the thing that was to be done was making medical education more affordable but the government had done the exact opposite by yielding to the capitation fee lobby once again,” Kamath said.
He added, “This move will ultimately lead to discrimination towards students who come from poor backgrounds such as children of workers and farmers.”
Hanmanth SH, state convener of ‘White Sparks’ Medical and Dental Students Forum, Karnataka also spoke against the move. “Medical profession is seen with a lot of sanctity because it is a service to humanity. Commercializing this field will create doctors who will be interested in recovering the fees or the investment they made to study medicine. This is a very dangerous thing to society, what sanctity will be left of this profession if it is just another business?” he asked.