KUALA LUMPUR: The moratorium imposed on new local medical schools over the past five years has not stopped the intake of more medical students.
This is because existing schools came up with new medical programmes and increased students’ intake, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
For this reason, he urged the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) to not only extend the moratorium but also put a stop to new programmes and additional student intakes.
“We are not happy with just the moratorium. We want it to be extended with no more new programmes and no more increases in student intake,” he said at the Malaysian Medics International forum’s dialogue with the Health Ministry and Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) here yesterday.
Dr Hisham, who is also MMC president, said some schools had come up with multiple programmes with twinning arrangements overseas.
“From one course, they can have four or five programmes and increase the number of students,” he said.
Asked why local schools were allowed to increase their medical programmes as the Higher Education Minister in 2011, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, had imposed the freeze, Dr Hisham said the moratorium was only for new medical schools.
The moratorium was effective from May 1, 2011 and would end April 30, this year.
MMC member Datuk Dr Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir said there had been cases where MMC’s decision to cut down on the number of medical students had been overruled.
In one case, the MMC had allowed only 60 students instead of 100 for a local university based on its capacity for an offshore programme but this was overruled.
In response to the Higher Education director-general Datuk Prof Dr Asma Ismail’s statement on Friday that the numbers approved were determined by MMC and not the MOHE, Dr Hamid said it was not entirely true as it was a collaborative effort and MMC’s decisions had sometimes been reversed.
Dr Hamid said that it was crucial to cap the number of students especially with private universities because students there were crowding public training hospitals.
Asked if anything could be done about students who took up medical studies despite not meeting the minimum grades and circumventing the No Objection Certificate (NOC) they were supposed to get from the MOHE, Dr Hisham said the authorities might have to consider making it legally binding as there was no law to address this now.
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