The hike in fees for medical seats reserved for non-resident Indians (NRIs) in Kerala has made pursuing medicine beyond the reach of Keralites living abroad, said a senior Congress leader here.
Senior Congress legislator K.C. Joseph condemned the new bill floated by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state. He said that an average non-resident Keralite (NRK) would not be able to afford such high donations.
Kerala Governor R.L. Bhatia gave his assent to the Kerala Professional Colleges (Prohibition of Capitation Fee, Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Non-Exploitative Fee and Other Measures to Ensure Equity and Excellence in Professional Education) Bill earlier this month.
According to the new law, 15 percent of the seats are reserved for NRIs.
In Kerala, there are eight medical colleges that offer seats in the NRI quota and the total seats that are available are 113.
"The Justice P.A. Mohammed committee appointed by the V.S. Achuthanandan government, after the bill was passed, has now fixed the yearly fees in these seats for the MBBS course at Rs. 565,000 per year. This is five times the fees that was recommended by the Justice K.T. Thomas commission appointed by the previous Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) government," said Joseph.
He added: "Since the eligibility for NRI quota admission is only the minimum qualification, the managements would give seats to NRIs who pay the highest donations, which is illegal."
Reports indicate that the going rate of donations collected from NRKs on the sly by medical colleges in the state is close to Rs. 3 million ($64,577) per seat.
"As a result, these seats would be bagged by only the cream of NRKs who earn a fat pay cheque," said Joseph.
Of the two million NRK's working in various countries, these seats are basically availed by those working in the Middle-East countries.