CHENNAI: Less than a week after the Tamil Nadu government claimed to have put in place a system to curb collection of capitation fees by private medical colleges, a TOI investigation has caught on camera officials of two leading medical colleges demanding Rs 20 lakh to Rs 40 lakh for an MBBS seat.
The investigation exposes how Chennai-based colleges violate an SC order and state legislation banning capitation fee. Officials of Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) and Shree Balaji Medical College and Hospital were caught on camera demanding donations from a student who cleared his Class XII exams this year.
While Shree Balaji College asked for Rs 20 lakh, SRU demanded Rs 40 lakh for an MBBS seat. The colleges have 150 seats each. DMK MP and Union minister of state for information and broadcasting S Jagathrakshakan is the chairman of Shree Balaji Medical College and Hospital while SRU is run by a trust led by industrialist V R Venkataachalam.
When informed of TOI’s investigation, state authorities promised to conduct an inquiry.
The Balaji college administrative officer, Johnson, is on camera directing the student to meet ‘‘an agent’’ at the Shree Lakshmi Ammal Educational Trust at 29, Tilak Street, T Nagar, where “negotiations” for the capitation fee of Rs 20 lakh could be conducted.
Asked if rates could be reduced, Johnson said: “Minister (Jagathrakshakan) tells us to charge not less than 20 lakh. Recommendations are all humbug. Nothing will happen. You meet Lakshmi,” he said, referring to the agent.
The college, he said, would at best allow parents to pay the capitation fee in three installments before January 2010, but he insisted that the amount would have to be paid “only in cash” at T Nagar, in the heart of the city, where the Trust has an office in a two-storey building.
Lakshmi, who is in charge of the Trust, says she could give no guarantee that a seat would be available for Rs 14 lakh (the amount we quoted). “You book your seat with an advance of Rs 2 lakh. We will see if we can offer you the rate that you ask for. But if you don’t book, the price would go up,” she said.
Some other medical colleges charge more than double this amount. TOI has on camera Sri Ramachandra University deputy registrar (admissions) Dr A Subramaniyan telling the student that the capitation fee is Rs 40 lakh. He quickly clarified that this does not include the fees of Rs 3.25 lakh per annum.
“There are chances that the fees get increased, then you may have to shell out more money every year. If you are ready with Rs 40 lakh we can start admission,” he said
A Times Now expose has caught on camera officials of Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) and Shree Balaji Medical College and Hospital demanding donations from a student who cleared his Class XII exams this year. For BDS, the donation quoted was Rs 3.5 lakh. Asked for a receipt, he said: “We cannot give any receipts. Receipts can be given only for the fees. The payment has to be made in cash. Along with the 3.5 lakh fees you can pay the donation.”
An MBBS student from SRU is also on camera saying the entrance exam conducted by the college is an eyewash. “No merit system here. For myself, an NRI, I paid Rs 75 lakh. For others, it was Rs 45 lakh. But I heard that the rates have come down to 40 lakh now.”
When asked why the university has been collecting capitation fees, its vice chancellor Dr S Rangaswami said: “I can’t talk to you now. We are busy with the inspection by MCI.”
Health authorities said they would recommend action if evidence is found. “Nobody has complained to us so far. If there is evidence, we would investigate and forward requisition for action against the colleges,” said director of medical education S Vinayagam. Repeated attempts to contact Jagathrakshakan proved futile.
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