For as long as one can remember, the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) has a fixed quota reserved for foreign national students who wish to study in the country. For the first time in the country’s history, however, the organization has now made it compulsory for international students to clear a Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) in order to pursue a medical degree in Pakistan. Moreover, according to Dawn, private colleges have been permitted to have separate fee structures for foreigners as compared to Pakistani students. All provinces in the country are also allowed to fix a quota for foreign students for admission into their public sector colleges.
On the contrary, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) expressed great concern over the decision, adding that it would close the doors of medical education for local students. However, the Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI) believes that majority of local students would be admitted as the decision of the PMC to declare MDCAT mandatory will compel foreign students to look for options in other countries.
According to a notification issued by the PMC, foreign students have been divided into two categories i.e. Pakistani students [overseas Pakistanis] and foreign students. “There are no quotas for foreign students. All foreign students will compete on a national merit for admission into private colleges. Each province may set up a quota for foreign students for admission to their public colleges, if they so desire. Private colleges may have a fee structure for foreign students different to Pakistani students, with a lower fee charged for Pakistani students,” read the notification. It added, “A foreign student may apply for preparation of merit to a private college on the basis of having taken the MDCAT result or SAT II (Scholastic Aptitude Test) results in Biology, Chemistry and Physics/Maths. The ratio given to each score for calculating cumulative score equivalence to MDCAT shall be Biology 40pc, Chemistry 30pc, Physics/Maths 20pc. English is exempted if the students have obtained their HSSC qualification from a programme taught primarily in English.”
In further news, following the Covid-19 pandemic, students of both categories have been exempted from MDCAT and only SAT II will be considered for their admissions. Foreign students who elect to come to Pakistan and take the MDCAT on Nov 15, 2020, will not lose their status as foreign student for purposes of applying for admissions. A foreign student will after having taken the MDCAT still retain the right to either select their MDCAT score or their SAT II scores at the time of applying for admissions to a private college in Pakistan, revealed the Dawn report.
“Our local students will not be able to get admissions, on the other hand foreign students will leave the country after graduation, so Pakistan will face deficiency of doctors in future. I suggest that tax should be imposed on foreign students as initially there will be just a few foreign students but with the passage of time number will increase as they will know that it is easy to do graduation from private colleges,” said PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad. But another official stated otherwise. “In the West, annual fee of a medical graduate is $60,000. We will get a large number of students if we offer them $12,000 per year,” he said, adding, “I believe that there should be schools/colleges which do not earn profit so that the quality education is given to the masses, but medical education has become a business in Pakistan.”