Quality of medical education is a deciding factor for the kind of doctors and hence the character of the treatment that patients are going to get. Transparency about the infrastructure and faculty of medical college are important and the deciding factors about the credibility of the institute. But the new opaqueness (by National Medical council- NMC) in the system displaying the critical details about medical colleges can have deleterious effects on medical education. The medical students are blind about the claims made by a medical college during inspection for recognition and permission to admit students, which may be not true. There have been many instances and several complaints of ghost faculty in private colleges and mass transfer of faculty during inspection from one government medical college to another. Not only medical students pay millions to have a seat in private medical colleges, they invest their prime life time in studying medicine. Such opaqueness has a potential to ruin their careers. Medical students will have to work harder to get true information and more careful, about the institute they are getting into.
The National Medical Commission (NMC) does not post college infrastructure assessment reports on its website and has also removed all previous assessment reports posted by the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI). So, students or members of the public cannot know what claims were made by a medical college during inspection for recognition and permission to admit students. Why are these assessment reports important? The reports reveal the date of inspection, the names and designation of the inspectors, usually experienced medical faculty from government medical colleges, along with their comments and findings. They reveal what kind of infrastructure existed or was claimed, including inpatient and outpatient load, number of beds and facilities in the teaching hospital and in the college. They reveal the number of faculty shown as employed by the college department-wise. With about 50 new medical colleges opening in 2021, a record for a single year, and especially unusual since it was the peak pandemic year, there were several complaints of ghost faculty in private colleges and mass transfer of faculty during inspection from one government medical college to another. “Not uploading assessment reports shields such substandard colleges with inadequate faculty and infrastructure. They just want to claim more colleges have been opened and that more MBBS seats have been created. It is a numbers game, quality be damned. In the case of private colleges, getting approval without adequate infrastructure or faculty is a windfall as they charge exorbitant fees from students. Usually, approval is given for 100-150 seats. Even at Rs 15 lakh per annum as tuition fees, the college gets to collect Rs 15 crore to Rs 22.5 crore from the first batch,” said a retired professor of a government medical college. “The MCI, which was labelled corrupt and non-functional, used to post the reports of assessments of infrastructure and faculty done according to minimum standard requirements each year,” said Dr Mohammed Khader Meeran, an RTI activist. In response to Dr Meeran’s RTI application seeking college assessment reports of academic years 2020-21 and 2021-22, the NMC said that “the information sought is very voluminous and scattered in various files” and that “it would disproportionately divert the resource of MARB (Medical Assessment & Rating Board) of NMC”.