Private medical colleges have once again defied the government refusing to return the extra fee illegally charged from students.
Writing to Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel on Tuesday, a day after they pledged to return the extra fee, promoters of the medical colleges have argued that the additional fees included registration fee, affiliation fee, and examinations fee among others, and stated they cannot return the amount as that has to be paid to the university.
Minister Pokharel has consulted TU Vice-chancellor and other office-bearers after receiving the defiant letter, according to a ministry source.
The seemingly hapless government has issued two deadlines to the medical colleges to return the extra money but the defiant colleges have been refusing to oblige.
Promoters of the medical colleges on Monday agreed to return the extra money when Minister Pokharel summoned them to inform that the government will initiate action as the extra money was not returned during the 15-day deadline, the second ultimatum issued by the government. But they have done a volte-face less than 24 hours later refusing to return the extra money.
A meeting at the Home Ministry earlier on Monday had decided to start taking action from Wednesday against the medical colleges refusing to return the extra money defying the government. Minister Pokharel then informed the promoters of the decision taken in the meeting featuring him, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Attorney General Agni Pokharel, Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai, and Nepal Police IGP Sarbendra Khanal among others.
Students have been protesting in private medical colleges across the country demanding the extra money collected above the fee set by the government be returned.
The Cabinet meeting on October 14, 2018 had set a fee of Rs 3.85 million for MBBS students inside the Kathmandu Valley, and Rs 4.245 million outside the Valley. The colleges can only charge Rs 2,500 and Rs 500 in registration fees and examination fees on top of that, and hostel and mess charges if the students stay at their hostel. But colleges have been charging up to Rs 5.50 million from each student.
The Education Ministry on March 26 had instructed private medical colleges to return the extra money if they have overcharged after agreement reached in the meeting of agitating students of Gandaki Medical College and representatives of the association of private medical colleges including chairman Basuruddin Ansari and promoter of Chitwan Medical College Haris Chandra Neupane called by Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel. But the colleges including National, Gandaki and Chitwan Medical College have yet to return the extra money.
A meeting a couple of months back at the Home Ministry including Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel and officials of the two ministries took the decision to initiate action if private medical colleges do not return the extra payment they charged over the fee set by the government within a month. The meeting had also publicly urged the medical colleges to return the extra money within one month, and decided to take action against the colleges for failing to do so within the deadline.
The ministry had issued another 15-day deadline after the medical colleges did not return the extra money within one month.