Open is making multifarious efforts to curb intensifying arbitrariness of government in medical sector   

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Navaraj Pandey, the Chairperson of Nobel College, is also the President of OPEN—the umbrella organization of PU affiliated colleges. Mr. Pandey has been continuously contributing not only to the development and advancement of the curricula of Pokhara University also to the development of education from the efforts of private sector in Nepal.

Mr. Panday has shared his view on the present 

status of education at Pokhara University, contribution of the Pokhara University affiliated colleges and the hardships faced by the private institutions.  Excerpts:

You are also the President of OPEN. How do you ensure that the PU affiliated private colleges are delivering quality education and preparing globally competent human resources?

Our graduates from health science, engineering and pharmacy programs are working at various reputed institutions in Nepal who also have been enrolled in Oxford and Harvard University in scholarship. Similarly, some graduates of Pokhara University are studying in Rome, the UK, Poland etc. and are working as scientists at globally acclaimed universities. Besides, many of them have completed PhD from globally recognized universities. The University has largest numbers of programs related to health and allied paramedical field in Nepal. So, Pokhara University has made a tremendous progress within two and a half decades since its establishment.

Could highlight some activities of PU affiliated colleges under OPEN that bolster the benchmarks of quality education they have retained?

All the colleges under OPEN have earned a respectable status. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequitable policies of the government for private medical colleges, the flow of students going to foreign swathes for higher studies is surging dramatically. The main reasons for this predicament are: the government has blocked all pathways for private institutions of Nepal but enabled open-door policies for foreign universities.

You have proclaimed that the number of students going to foreign swathes for higher education after their ten-plus-two graduation is persisting in an alarming rate. What could be a persuasive strategy to ensure an amicable environment in Nepal that would play a significant role in convincing those future expats to stay in their native land for higher studies?

The single effort of individual college, OPEN and University is not possible to create such an environment. The government should bring appropriate and private friendly policies to stir up the progressive stimuli of education providers to embrace advanced teaching and learning methodologies. Only the combined efforts of the government, the private sector and the University can resolve these increasing problems. On the contrary, the wrong evaluation system should be immediately corrected. 

It is an excruciating phenomenon that only around 20% students from the engineering faculty succeed to attain their graduation due to the existing wrong evaluation system. The same problem seems to be skyrocketing in the medical field as well. The medical science students have to wait for a long time for a new intake. It compels them to go to a foreign swathe for further studies. 

Similarly, the government has provided limited intake seats to its Nepalese institutions but the foreign university affiliated colleges in Nepal have been given a privilege of enrolling students as many as they can accommodate, which is really appalling. Due to these reasons, Nepalese students generate frustrations and decide to go to foreign lands for further studies and most of them eventually succeed. In this regard, the current evaluation system, GPA marking system, formative and summative evaluation system, which are erroneous, should be amended. Since most students succumb to failures in the exams due to unscientific assessment frameworks set by most universities in Nepal, they wish to go to foreign universities where they deserve 100% pass out assurance.

Medical Education Commission (MEC) has created stacks of hindrances for smooth running of medical programs which seem conspicuously faulty. In your opinion, what should be done by the MEC to solve these problems?

The medical education commission has sabotaged the smooth development of medical education which is related to policy making and unfair distribution of power. Most private medical colleges are facing a number of challenges regarding student enrollment since last three years. As a result, Nepalese medical education enthusiasts are compelled to leave the country in search of quality medical education in a foreign swathe. Because of an unfair deal with the Nepalese private medical education institutions, more than 67 billion (Arab) Nepalese currency is drained out each year. In addition, such disparities have abated the existence of medical colleges in Nepal, most of which are on the verge of collapse. 

So, I would like to convey a message to the conscious citizens, the stakeholders and the government to accept this epiphany before it becomes an emergency. The media like College Readers magazine should play a significant role in tailoring such a predicament in order to draw the attention of the concerned authorities to find a solution. I would like to emphasize that College Readers magazine, which is widely read by most college owners, government officials and students, should be made the mouthpiece of the University. 

Furthermore, our students are eligible for studying in any university of the world but are restricted in Nepalese universities because of obstruction created by Medical Education Commission. In other words, the Medical Education Commission intentionally prepares strenuous questions from beyond-the-curriculum which results in witnessing a large number of students failing to conquer the examinations. In this regard, the Commission should carve a path to resolve this issue without further delay.

Pokhara University has maintained the academic standard. As the President of OPEN, what programs of the University, in your opinion, would ensure further quality enhancement?

Pokhara University is controlled by the Medical Education Commission. There is a controversy between the University Act and the Act of Medical Education Commission. As a result, the University has to depend on Medical Education Commission for quality control. So, the University should establish an autonomous body under its grip. An unnecessary interference and control of commission over the University should immediately end.

What message would you like to convey to the existing students, prospective students and guardians?

Pokhara University is the largest private university and the second largest university among the universities in Nepal after Tribhuvan University which has been delivering quality education for many decades. So, I suggest that students and guardians should trust the University and its affiliates for their exceptional quality education delivery. The Colleges under OPEN have made immense contributions to education development in Nepal. 

Nobel College, under OPEN is a widely acclaimed institution for quality assurance. It has been imparting life-changing education since 1998 as Nobel College and has culminated its glory to a greater niche. In this regard, as Chairperson of Nobel College, I assure you all that Nobel College is an ultimate resort to quench your academic thirst.

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