Illegal academic practices: Cases against two colleges, another loses UHS cover
LAHORE: The Punjab government has got registered criminal cases against two private medical colleges and disaffiliated another for operating illegally, a source told Dawn.
The cases were lodged against Arnina Inayat Medical College, Sheikhupura and Azra Naheed Medical College, Lahore, while notice of disaffiliation was served on the University College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Lahore, by University of Health Sciences (UHS) Lahore, an official source privy to the development told Dawn.
The Punjab government also notified on Tuesday a committee headed by Punjab chief secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa and comprising Board of Revenue Senior Member Sami Saeed as its convener, Special Education Secretary Najam Saeed and Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, as members.
The decisions were taken on the directions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif after a high-level meeting he presided over on Monday.
The source said the CM was informed that the three private medical institutions were operating illegally, putting the future of scores of students at stake.
For the last few years, a tendency had been witnessed amongst new private medical and dental colleges to avoid UHS affiliation that required them to fulfill certain conditions pertaining to their infrastructure and faculty for petty gains and then these institutions indulged in practices considered illegal with regard to medical education, the CM was informed.
Referring to Section 37 of UHS Act, VC Malik Hussain Mubashir informed the meeting that the medical, dental, nursing and health institutions located in Punjab were mandated under law to get themselves affiliated with varsity.
“All medical institutions, whether in public or private sector, located within the geographical boundaries of the province of the Punjab, whether affiliated with any other University, Examination Board or a Medical Faculty, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, shall affiliate with the University within such period and on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed,” Section 37(1) of the UHS Act, quoted by Mr Mubashir, says.
The source said the UHS VC further told the meeting that these institutions, instead of complying with the standards, tried to find an easier but illegal alternative; getting themselves affiliated with other universities in contravention of UHS Act and judgments of the Lahore High Court as well as the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The tendency to evade the law is resulting in poor standards of medical education which will ultimately affect the healthcare delivery to the population of Punjab.
“What worries us is that defiance of law by University College of Medicine and Dentistry: University of Lahore – an affiliated institution of UHS, that is conducting examinations on its own in sheer violation of the relevant law,” Malik Husain Mubashir told the meeting.
About the committee constituted by the CM, the source said it would examine whether suspended health additional secretary (Technical) Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Sulehria followed the directions of UHS board chairman pertaining to urgent submission of a report to the varsity’s admission board regarding proposed amendments to the law governing the private medical education.
The committee shall further examine whether Dr Sulehria forwarded the UHS references to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and other relevant authorities within and outside the health department.
It shall also examine if health department’s technical wing, headed by Dr Sulehria, responded timely and appropriately to the references sent by UHS VC from time to time since 2008.The committee would examine the relevant documents and files, interview the persons it deemed appropriate and submit its findings to chief minister within 24 hours.
The chief minister had ordered constitution of the committee in the meeting which reviewed the medical education matters and complaints pertaining to illegal practices by some private institutions.