June 30, 2011

Medical seats for sale in Maharashtra

Students who have filled up forms for medical entrance exams of private colleges and deemed universities in the state are being offered a shortcut to success. But it comes at a steep price: Rs 12-16 lakh, besides regular fees.

Even before the results are out, with some exams yet to be conducted, SMSes are raining down on candidates, promising them a place on merit lists. It is not clear how touts obtained the candidates' cellphone numbers, but collusion of college authorities is evident. The racket is being carried out blatantly, as the touts, who call themselves education consultants, issue post-dated cheques as securities for taking an advance from willing candidates.

"I started receiving the messages just the day after submitting my form. Till now, I have received more than 15 messages and all of them look like they have been sent using a website. I initially thought they were spam, but friends who called up the numbers told me they were for real," said a student from Matunga.

Among the students TOI spoke to, some said they were confident about making it to the colleges on their own and have ignored the messages. But many have fallen for the touts. TOI obtained the numbers of a few touts from the students and called up (see transcripts in graphic), pretending to be a candidate. Almost all said appearance in the entrance tests is a prerequisite for them to ensure a seat. One of them claimed he would be able to ensure admission in 10 days.

"You need to pay an advance. I will take care of things after that. You need to make the final payment to the owner or the trustee of the college; it should be at one go. And yes, the annual tuition fee would be higher than the regular fee. The amounts will be higher if you score very low in the entrance test," said a tout, who maintains an office in Pune. He said the admission would be provided under the 15% NRI quota.

When TOI contacted a college mentioned by a tout, an official said: "Admissions to all our group colleges are done completely on the basis of merit. The NRI quota is the management's prerogative, but that too is filled on the basis of merit."

Kamal Kishore Kadam, president, Association of Managements of Unaided and Private Medical and Dental Colleges, which conducts the entrance exam ASSO-CET, said: "Students should not fall prey to such messages. They should approach the police and file a complaint."

Link: Original Article

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