August 11, 2008

Health Ministry to Look into Status of Manipal Degrees

By Annie Freeda Cruez

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian students at India's Manipal University may get a lifeline if recognition for the university's degrees is withdrawn.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday his ministry would help the students get into a recognised medical college by way of credit transfer.

The fate of the 54 Malaysians enrolled in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and dentistry courses at the university will be known, hopefully, on Monday.

Liow has directed the director-general of Health, Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, who is also the president of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), to look into the status of the Manipal University.

"We need to seek a confirmation from the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the university as to the de-recognition of the medical degrees," he said.

He added it was important for the ministry and MMC to get the actual status before deciding on the course of action to be taken to help the students studying at the university's Kasturba Medical Colleges in Manipal and Mangalore in India.

"I am surprised by the report that the MCI does not recognise the medical degrees offered by India's leading Manipal University, citing lack of clinical facilities and flouting of regulations. I think it is better for us to get the information direct from MCI and the university," said Liow.

In response, Manipal University pro-chancellor Dr H. S. Ballal said the university was surprised by the purported statement from MCI at a time when the matter was under consideration by the higher authorities.

He said Kasturba Medical College fulfilled all the inspection criteria specified by the MCI - be it faculty quality, staff strength, teaching infrastructure, hospital infrastructure, hospital utilisation, student education and care facility.

Ballal said in a statement that the MCI was only a recommendatory body and did not hold the power to de-recognise an institute.

"Kasturba Medical College (KMC) has been consistently featured amongst the top five medical colleges in India, for the last few decades in a row."

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