Sindh medical students in a fix as row over MDCAT pass percentage escalates


Pakistan Medical Commissions (PMC) logo. — Twitter
Pakistan Medical Commission’s (PMC) logo. — Twitter
  • PMC asks JSMU to not intervene in private medical, dental college admissions.
  • It also warns colleges against violating its criteria for admissions.
  • Private colleges ask PMC, Sindh to resolve their dispute at the earliest.

The medical students in Sindh are confused as the row between the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) and the provincial government escalated Thursday after the federal body asked Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU), Karachi, to not intervene in private medical and dental college admissions.

The commission also warned all private medical and colleges against violating its criteria for admissions.

PMC’s advice to JSMU came after the health department tasked the varsity with initiating the admissions process to private medical and dental colleges in the province.

The provincial health department had also asked JSMU to start awarding admissions to students who have secured 50% and above marks in the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) 2021.

The deadlock between the PMC and the health department is over the minimum pass percentage in the MDCAT for admissions, as the commission is not willing to lower the pass percentage from 65, while the provincial government insists that students securing 50% should also be allowed to get admissions to the medical and dental colleges in Sindh.

In its letter to the JSMU vice-chancellor, PMC said the varsity had issued a public notice inviting applications from all students seeking admissions to the private medical and dental colleges in Sindh.

PMC said the notice was directly in conflict with not only the constitution, the Pakistan Medical Commission Act, 2020, and the PMC Regulations, but also the law as laid down conclusively by the Supreme Court and the Sindh High Court.

The letter said the JSMU’s public notice has caused “grave and unnecessary” confusion amongst the students and, therefore, requires to be withdrawn immediately as neither the varsity nor the admission committee or the Sindh health department was legally mandated to undertake admissions to private medical and dental colleges.

It states that under the PMC Act 2020, admissions to the private medical colleges are to be undertaken by the colleges directly as per the criteria submitted in advance by each college, while the JSMU, the admission committee, or the health department cannot, by way of a notification, amend the PMC Act, 2020.

“Any attempt by JSMU to undertake admissions in private medical or dental colleges will amount to not only usurping a right of the private medical and dental colleges but [will be] in direct violation of the PMC Act, 2020.”

The letter further said that neither the provincial health department nor the cabinet had the power to alter the admission criteria laid down in the PMC Act, 2020, requiring the mandatory qualification of the MDCAT as per the result declared by the PMC.

“This is in direct contravention of the judgment of the Supreme Court in CP No.4944 of 2021,” it says.

Similarly, Sindh health department, nor the cabinet have the constitutional or legal authority to take such decisions, which are related to the regulation of medical education or practice.

It is exclusively a federal subject as has been held conclusively by the SHC in the judgment titled ‘Naila Maqbool Laghari vs Government of Sindh reported as PLD 2018 Sindh 391, according to the commission, it said.

“Therefore, any notification issued to such effect as referred to in the public notice would be in direct violation of not only the afore referred judgment but further contrary to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

The letter said each medical or dental college is answerable to the PMC in respect of its actions, including any violations of the PMC Act, 2020 or regulations framed thereunder in terms of admissions carried out by the college.

“Any attempt by JSMU to undertake such admissions acting as proxy of the private medical and dental colleges would amount to JSMU attempting to provide albeit an illegal umbrella to such colleges undertaking illegal admissions by way of admitting students who have failed the MDCAT exam. Medical colleges violating PMC criteria shall be liable to have their registration with the PMC terminated with immediate effect.”

Colleges’ stance

The principal of one of the leading private medical and dental colleges in Sindh said on Thursday the admission issue between the PMC and the provincial government had been dragging on unnecessarily, thereby causing embarrassment for both the parties and confusion among students and parents.

“PMC and Sindh health department officials should sit together and resolve it for the better interest of medical education in the country. Sindh should agree to a 65 pass percentage for medical college admissions, while the PMC should lower pass percentage for dental colleges to 50% this year to resolve this issue for the moment,” the principal, who requested anonymity, suggested.

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