Medical course freeze

PETALING JAYA: The freeze on new medical courses in all local institutions will be extended for another five years, announced the Higher Education Ministry.

Its Deputy Minister Datuk Mary Yap said the moratorium would be extended from May 1 this year to April 30, 2021.

“This is to ensure that there is a balance between the supply offered and the industry demand, and the marketability of graduates,” she said in a reply to Senator Datuk Jaspal Singh in Dewan Negara yesterday.

Jaspal had asked for the number of students pursuing medical stu­dies in local and overseas institutions and whether the ministry would review the list of recognised universities.

Yap said in 2014, there were 8,157 medical students in public universities and 11,348 in private institutions while 539 others pursued their studies abroad.

The ministry, she said, was constantly working with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to monitor the quality of education in all the institutions.

On the review, Yap said this would be based on need from time to time.

In supporting the freeze, Malay­sian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Ashok Zachariah Phillip said he hoped the morato­rium meant that there would be no new programmes by colleges, no new twinning partnerships as well as no increase in the number of students.

The moratorium, he said, had to go together with efforts to improve the quality and training of junior doctors.

On students who took up medical studies despite not meeting the mi­­nimum grades and circumven­ting the No Objection Certificate (NOC) that they were supposed to get from the Higher Education Ministry, he said the MMC was trying to introduce a common qualifying exam.

The MMA, he said, supported this to ensure that the quality of doctors meet the standards required.

“This way, those who have gone overseas with less than the minimum requirements will be screened,” he said, adding that students could sue agents who promised that they could get away with no NOC in the event they could not get a job.

Recently, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the moratorium imposed for the past five years had not stopped the intake of more students because existing schools came up with new programmes and increased recruitment.

He had urged not only for the moratorium to be extended but also for a stop to new programmes and additional student intake.

Source: The Star

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