A large number of overseas Pakistanis have termed the Medical Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT) policy of Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) counter-intuitive saying it has discouraged their children from taking admissions in Pakistani colleges.
In this way, they say, the foreign exchange which should have come to Pakistan would go to Turkey, Cyprus, Russia, China and many other countries.
However, a PMC spokesperson, requested not to be named, said the commission had ensured that admissions in medical and dental colleges were purely on merit.
`The PMC has never preferred foreign exchange over merit,` the spokespersonsaid.
Aziz Ahmed, an overseas Pakistani, while talking to Dawn said ChineseAmerican, Indian-American, RussianAmerican and many more send their children to their home country to do Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).
`Expatriate students from Canada, America, UK and many other countries used to bring millions in foreign currency each year to Pakistan. The 65pc passing requirement in MDCAT is not a practicable policy. This criterion is not only strict but it prevents huge sums of dollars from entering Pakistan,` he said.
`Now the Pakistani government is losing huge amount of foreign exchange because they are going to other countries such as Russia, Turkey and China. Their criterion for the MBBS programme is much more lenient. Once they completed their medical degree, PMC accepts their medical degrees. So why does the PMC not have the same level of leniency?` Mr Ahmed said.
Mohammad Yousuf, a resident of US, said PMC and related organisations previously gave admission as per SAT 2 results.`SAT 2 results remained valid for two years as per their criteria. I personally met 55 families from America, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and many more who have spent lots of time and money to fulfil last year`s criteria of the SAT 2 set by PMC. As per the twoyear ruling, their grades are still valid so they should be qualified for admission in MBBS and BDS. Why the PMC not following their own criteria is because students who have fulfilled the SAT 2 based on their ruling are still qualified to admission this year,` Mr Yousuf said.
`I urge Prime Minister Imran Khan, the federal ministries of health and education, and other higher authorities to get involved by trying to change the PMC policy regarding the MDCAT and give admission to expatriate students as per the same criteria which they themselves had approved last year because these SAT 2 scores are still valid. The current PMC policy discourages foreign students from coming to Pakistan,` he said.
In Pakistan, too, MDCAT candidates are also criticising the policy regarding test and they have approached courts across the country.
However, the PMC spokesperson said the PMC`s focus remained on merit rather than getting foreign exchange.
`We have to ensure that competent students are admitted in the medical colleges and become competent doctors. It is not appropriate to introduce higher percentage of marks for local students and lower percentage for foreign students,` he said.
In a written statement, he said MDCAT is designed to assess the ability of the applicant to pursue a medical or dental education. The questions are from the syllabus but they are framed in a manner whereby the applicant is expected to apply the concepts learned not just memorised texts.
`The intent of the exam is to determine the competency of students in terms of having grasped concepts rather than just memorised answers,` he said.
The medical entrance exam should be considered even more competitive than other exams considering that medical practitioners have to make critical decisions about the health and safety of our citizens,` he said.