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COMEDK KARNATKA 2011 MANAGEMENT QUOTA SEATS
Ever since the Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMED-K) came into being in 2004, there have been reservations about its earnestness.
While the state government conducts the Common Entrance Test (CET) to allot seats in engineering and medical colleges across the state, private colleges decided to form the consortium to do the same through its own admission process.
Even people associated with COMED-K see it as a money-spinning business for private institutions, rather than as an attempt to streamline the process of providing management seats to meritorious students from other states.
“It is a game played by private institutions to mint money. They do it through agents and former students. What is more surprising is that even some prestigious institutions in Bangalore are indulging in it,” said S Venkatesh, a former agent of a private medical college.
Venkatesh said he was sick of the way agents from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar tried to gain admissions through tricks like impersonation. Bright former students are made to write exams and fetch seats for candidates from affluent families. This happens for both under-graduate and post-graduate as well as medical engineering courses.
“This is rampant in Bangalore as the city boasts of top professional institutions, with 42 private engineering colleges and nine private medical colleges. Almost all of these cream of institutions resort to more than one tactic to woo students into their institutions through the 15% management quota. The managements claim they need the money to run the show as the government creates losses through state quota.
Nexus and fraud
“There is a nexus between former students, who act as agents of college managements, and some bright students from outside Karnataka, who run the racket through fraud. The agents organise the bright students to write the COMED-K entrance examination for those with heavy purses and help them get into these colleges. Impersonation is rampant as there are hardly any checks. This had been happening year after year,” said K Rishikumar, whose friend from Kerala wanted to get into one of the medical colleges in the city by paying `15 lakh under the management quota.
He said those who do not take up the COMED-K exams will come under the NRI quota and each MBBS seat will cost Rs35 lakh or more, depending on the reputation of the institution.
He demanded that the government conduct inspections on private colleges that admit students through COMED-K. “If you investigate, you will find that the person who appeared for the entrance examination will be different from the student who got admission in the college. This is what they call ‘blocking’ of seats. This happens in both undergraduate engineering and medical courses and in post-graduate medical courses,” he added.
Since the seats are limited in post-graduate medical courses in private colleges, the stakes are high. “Post-graduate medical course in orthopaedics will cost a whopping `1.2 crore. It will be about `80 lakh for subjects like gynaecology. Subjects like ophthalmology and general medicines are available for a price ranging between Rs35 lakh and Rs45 lakh,” said BV Satish Dhavan, whose friend from outside Karnataka wanted to get into a private medical college here for a PG course.
“Earlier, it was auctions of PG medical seats. Even prestigious private medical colleges in the city used to go for it. The highest bidder used to get the seats and others had to return empty-handed. Now, the COMED-K has proved worse. Anyone who can afford the price can have it. The only difference here is that he has to catch the right agent and college,” said Satish Dhavan BV, a resident of Ganganagar.
Engineering not spared
The same fraud is played during the entrance examinations conducted by COMED-K for engineering seats. K Rajesh once wanted to get an engineering seat for his friend's brother from Bihar. He was shocked to confront agents from all over India offering him a seat.
“But when I approached the college directly, they declined to give me one. The amount they demanded for each stream of engineering varied from Rs5 lakh to Rs10 lakh,” he said.
Everybody gets a cut
From the student impersonator at the COMED-K entrance test to the agent who recruits him will get their cuts out of the money the student who seeks admission pays to the college.
“The person who writes the entrance test for the one who seeks admission in private professional colleges under the management quota will get Rs2 lakh to Rs5 lakh. He is paid for writing the examination. Bright students will be selected by the agents, who knows them by their performance in all-Indian admission tests. The student who wants to take this short cut has to pay `20 lakh extra,” Bharath Gowda, a resident of Vijayanagar, said. He claimed to know some of such impersonators. “It is a fun and money making hobby for them and they enjoy it,” he added. The running rate for a medical seat in private quota is Rs35 lakh and more according to the reputation of the college. In the case of post-graduate medical courses, the highest premium as donation is for the anaesthetist course which is as high as Rs1.5 crore. The rest of the subjects come below this figure, according to COMED-K sources.
How much it takes to start a medical college
The business of starting a medical college is taking new dimensions every year. "A deposit of Rs5 crore has to be paid to the joint account of the Medical Council of India and the college management to get a licence. The college should have 10 acres and an over 200-bedded hospital to take in 50 students a year. The intake of students can increase along with the increase in the number of beds in the teaching hospital. If the hospital attached to the medical college has more than 350 beds, the student intake can be 80 and 100 students for 600 beds," said one of board of directors of a newly-established medical college, on condition of anonymity. He said the cost involved to start a medical college will be around Rs350 crore
For an engineering college
A 'promoter' of engineering colleges said the same procedure is also followed in establishing an engineering college which demand a Rs90 lakh licence fee to be deposited in the joint account of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the college management. When the application is submitted, the demand draft for the amount has to be submitted along with it. "An engineering college requires at least Rs10 crore for its building and other infrastructure facilities and it should have at least 2.5 acres of land now (which was five acres earlier). Initially, the courses offered will depend on the faculty and infrastructure available," the promoter said.
“This is purely a business. You invest and get your money back with premium. Most institutions one can find is under some educational trust. No individual starts a college as there will be hurdles like income tax,” said S Krishnappa, who was one of the trustees of an engineering college.
Krishnappa said a management cannot run an institution without a profit. “After all, we see it as a business proposition based on ‘profits only’ and not for losses. Only the government can run without profit,” he said.
Most managements feel the government is trying to meddle with the process of admission, which they think is their prerogative, and want autonomy in admitting students, and that's how COMED-K came into being.
What COMED-K says
COMED-K executive secretary S Kumar said the law of the land does not prohibit any individual from competing for multiple opportunities. "I don’t know where the system failed in the case of blocking of seats. But there are agencies like universities, the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Directorate of Medical Education and so on. If colleges indulge in malpractices, these agencies check them," he said. As far as COMED-K is concerned, it diligently despatches the list of candidates and their profile with the bio-metrics to these agencies in order to inform them that the COMED-K has followed the set rules laid by these organisations, he added. "It is up to these agencies to deal with the erring colleges and institutions in case of any deviation from the set rules and procedures," he summed up.
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