In a bid to nudge students from government-run medical colleges to practice medicine in state-run medical institutions, Haryana has introduced a new bond that could be up to Rs 9.2 lakh yearly payable up front by students.
Additionally, the four-year MBBS course fee has also seen a 66 percent hike for the first year from Rs 56,000 annually to Rs 80,000. Unlike the standard fee that was charged for all four years until last year, the Haryana government has said that the fee will now be increased by 10 percent every year.
This takes the total fees to Rs 3.71 lakh for the four-year course as against Rs 2.24 lakh charged earlier. However, the bigger shocker for students came in the form of the Rs 8.9 lakh-9.2 lakh annual bond that has to be paid by students.
Taking into account the annual fees and bond, the total cost for a four-year MBBS degree will now be Rs 40 lakh. This is a 1,686 percent increase in the annual expense for students. Haryana has 850 seats for MBBS across its government medical colleges.
Note: The loan amount mentioned is the annual bond that is payable by the student
No State government in India has such a bond scheme for students. Only employers have a bond system where a new recruit has to spend a certain number of years in the company. If he/she quits before that period, they are required to pay a certain sum of money to the employer.
Both students as well as the Congress-led opposition have termed this the ‘worst move’, stating that it will keep students from lower income families away from medical education.
“Without discussions with stakeholders, how can the fee be increased by more than 50 percent? How will we students manage to pay the bond amount,” said MBBS aspirant Mohit Singh. He added that even students who wish to go abroad for higher education or work will be unable to do so under this scheme.
How will this scheme work?
According to a government notification dated November 6, students can either take an education loan from banks/NBFCs for this purpose or pay the lumpsum amount (loan plus annual fee) themselves.
The State government will put the bond amount in a separate trust. The funds maintained in the corpus will be utilised for repayment of loan instalments of graduates who have obtained jobs in government medical institutions and also for improvement of infrastructure and equipment in government medical colleges.
In case a candidate avails an education loan from a financial institution, the repayment will commence after the moratorium period of the course, which is four-years plus one. The tenure of the loan will be seven years after the moratorium period.
After graduation, if a student gets a job with a State institution, the government will pay back the bond amount in addition to the salary. However, a student has to stay employed with the State-run medical institution for at least seven years.
The State government will stop paying the loan instalments the moment the candidate quits the State government job.
In case a student does not join a government medical institution after completing the MBBS course, the loan repayment will be his/her individual responsibility.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told mediapersons that the fee hike has been pending for several years. He added that the bond amount is to encourage students to pursue their careers in State-run medical institutions in Haryana.
Students fume at fee hike
Students are of the view that the State government is deliberately trying to derail the plans of candidates at the last moment.
Hisar-based MBBS aspirant Arjun Atwal told Moneycontrol that the State government has created confusion by announcing a fee hike at the last minute.
“The government could have announced the fee hike prior to the NEET 2020 exams. Now, students are stuck. Taking a Rs 36-lakh loan from a bank is not a small matter. If we end up getting good job opportunities outside the State, we won’t be able to take them,” he added.
Atwal also said that students will either drop out of seeking medical education this year or opt for a private college that does not have any bond system.
Another area that needs clarification is what happens to a student who is not able to get a loan after being admitted into a medical college. The government notification does not mention any relief for economically weaker sections, nor for SC/STs and other backward classes.
“The government is talking about introducing a credit guarantee scheme at a later stage for loans to pay the bond. Why complicate matters? If the State medical institutes were so attractive, there wouldn’t have been any need to introduce such bonds,” said 19-year-old MBBS aspirant Shreya Rawal.