With only days left until rescheduled entry tests for admissions to medical and dental colleges in Punjab take place, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has set wheels of confusion in motion by announcing that A Level students can no longer apply for admissions to MBBS or BDS programmes through the foreign quota.
The move means these students will now compete for limited seats available in public and private medical and dental colleges on open merit. This will strip such students of the right to use their A Level qualification as the basis for applying on seats reserved under the foreign quota. Of the total seats approved by the council for admissions to MBBS and BDS programmes in an individual college, PMDC allows both public and private institutes to reserve up to 15% of those seats to foreign and self-finance quotas.
To be eligible for application through the quota, these students must now have a permanent foreign nationality or dual nationality.
The decision was finalised in a recent PMDC meeting that was chaired by federal minister Saira Afzal Tarrar. Officials informed the attendees that regulations proposed in October 2016 had come into force and no A Level student could now be allowed to obtain admissions in public or private medical or dental colleges in the country on the basis of foreign quota.
According to reports, the meeting ruled that medical college aspirants who merely applied through the foreign quota on the basis of their A Level studies could no longer do so.
To be eligible for application through the quota, these students must now have a permanent foreign nationality or dual nationality. Also eligible for consideration on foreign quota will be overseas Pakistani students who have physically obtained secondary and higher secondary school certificates –equivalent to passing grade 12 in Pakistan – from abroad. The students will also be required to submit proof of studies at the school they last attended during their overseas’ stay.
The sub-section 3 of Section 8 of PMDC’s 2016 regulations reads:
No candidate shall be eligible for foreign quota seats in public and private medical and dental institutions under sub-regulations (I) and (2) unless he holds a permanent foreign nationality or dual nationality or overseas Pakistani students and who has physically studied and passed secondary school certificate (SSC) and HSSC passing 12th grade examination or equivalent from outside Pakistan during his stay abroad and having a certificate from the institution last attended to this effect.
Though the ultimate aim of the decision might be greater transparency and promotion of merit during the process of admissions, the timing could not have been worse. The move comes at a time when thousands of MBBS and BDS aspirants across Pakistan have either appeared for or gearing up to prepare for annual Medical and Dental Colleges Admissions Test (MDCAT).
The news has left thousands of A Level students in a state of confusion, and there appears to be no clear authority yet which the affected students can approach to redress their concerns and get a clearer understanding of their fate.
The Academia repeatedly tried to reach members of the PMDC executive committee for a comment, but to no avail.