Sunday, June 07, 2009

TN medical college expose

A TV channel catches the Deputy Registrar of a medical college in Tamil Nadu asking for capitation fee on camera. The HRD ministry, duly outraged, sets up an enquiry. The UGC also jumps in with its own probe. The minister, who is said to be chairman of the board of trustees of the college, dissociates himself from the medical college.

I don't know how one is supposed to react. It's good to have this sort of thing exposed but is it news to anybody? Two facts have been public knowledge for quite some time- and thousands of families who have paid through their nose can testify to these.

i. Hundreds of private engineering and medical colleges in TN, Karnataka, Maharashtra and other places offer admission on the basis of large capitation fees.
ii. Many of these institutions have been promoted by politicians.

I recall a secretary at our Institute telling me how her husband had to fly down to Chennai with around Rs 3 lakh in a suitcase in order to secure admission for her child in an engineering college there. I wondered how the suitcase had passed scrutiny at the airport- didn't the security people ask about such a large amount of currency being transported around?

Capitation fee flourishes despite the Supreme Court ban on it. The government and the quasi-regulatory bodies in education have been mute spectators thus far. (It was interesting to read in the papers that a court actually described the Medical Council of India as "den of thieves". Former minister Anbumani Ramadoss confessed that he had failed to clean up the MCI inspite of trying).
The new UPA government has education reforms high on its agenda. Tackling the menace of capitation fee and donations in various forms must be a priority in education. They render education inaccessible, of course, but they also breed corruption, with doctors and engineers coming out of these places focused on getting the quickest return on the huge investment they have made.

5 comments:

Raj said...

Ram, when there is 'reservation' to the extent of 70% as in TN, and cut-off marks can be quite high for students of forward community, the only option open to them is 'self-financed' colleges. And these colleges cannot be professionally run with the marginally higher fees that they are allowed to charge for 'management quote' students. I think the solution is to 'legalise' capitation ( after they discharge other obligations) rather than to force the colleges to collect the amount thru surreptious means. Not that management quota is filled by FC candidates, but at least there is an option available ,in case they are willing to pay for it.

bagdu said...

Ram, if it is not news, it is not obvious either.
Since the corruption is quite open in this case(by necissity) compared to other clandstine forms, it is easier to expose it.
But corruption as a structural reason is often ignored while studying the Indian education system. None of the scholars including Yashpal committee, Knowledge commission or the more recent paper by your colleagues Rakesh Basant have acknowledged this and if at all only in passing.
From your vantage point, you and your students can study the interesting phenomenon and correct this malaise. For example some problems can be:
1.Correlation between the number of seats/colleges with the bribe amount required for getting a seat or licence for starting a new college grouped by State/Discipline
2.Correlation of RoI on a seat bought illegaly in India vs a legitimate sear in a foreign country, say, Australia.
3.The geographic distribution of buyers and sellers and the sources of money paid.
4.Standard financial models for education Institutes in terms of cost of creating a new seat with a given quality,RoI for the entreprenure. Possible alternate scenarios with variables like quality and cost of faculty, infrastructure, independence in pricing,getting students from abroad.
5.Correlation of growth of education market with state GDP and state demograhics.

How long can we see papers in NBER about India from researchers abroad while professors from premier institutes of India are happily sharing their empirical evidence from their surroudings.

Prasad said...

The best manner to tackle the problem of sub-standard education will be to set up a National Testing Commission which should conduct all degree awarding examinations and then make College Licenses laissez-faire.

The Government can put the screws on the examination system and awarding of degrees rather than curbing education per-se. If the Government messes this up, private Testing Institutions will then crop up and grab the credibility of the potential employers!

Deepak Shenoy said...

3 lakhs isn't a large amount of currency anymore - three bundles of Rs. 1000, could easily go unnoticed. And honestly 3 lakhs shouldn't gather attention.

What the MCI should be forced to do is recognise a ton of more medical colleges. And to free engineering colleges from licensing as well. When there is demand, no level of bans can stop the supply from extracting cash - simple economic theory, when demand is much higher than supply, the highest price will win. You gotta address demand, not the corruption.

Heard anyone buy tickets in "black" after the spate of multiplexes? For some movies for a couple days perhaps, but for the most part, once supply was addressed, "black" just vanished.

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