Foreigners with poor English Medical varsities offered alternatives to SAT-II
LAHORE, Feb 25: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has placed before all the medical varsities of the country three alternatives to entrance test or scholastic aptitude test part-II (SAT-II) for the students from the developing Muslim countries with poor English language skills, to choose from.
The HEC move is being seen as a step towards permanently waiving off the SAT-II condition for the foreign students for admission to MBBS/BDS under Pakistan Technical Assistance Programme (PTAP) and Self Finance Scheme (SFS).
The decision to ‘consult’ the varsities on the issue was taken at a meeting held on January 23 at Islamabad that was also attended by envoys of six Muslim countries, including some of ambassadors, who reportedly backed the move. It was presided over by HEC chairperson Dr Javaid R Laghari.
The envoys included Al Shafi Ahmed Mohamed, Ambassador of Sudan, Walid Abu Ali, Ambassador of State of Palestine, Nawaf Saraireh, Ambassador of Jordan, Ali A. Muhra of Syria, Jamal Saeed Shamsan, Counselor of Yemen’s Embassy and Ali Sheikh Abdullahi, Second Secretary of Somali embassy. Ghayyur Fatima, HEC Director (Academics), also attended the meeting.
Earlier, in 2011, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and the Punjab government had categorically refused to relax the relevant rules for the medical students of non-English speaking countries on the ground that it would largely help private medical colleges to mint ‘more’ money from the foreigners studying at local institutes.
Some Muslim countries’ embassies had approached the prime minister through Economic Affairs Division with a request to end the SAT-II condition for their students that was conveyed to the PMDC and the Punjab government.
However, the HEC at its Jan 23 meeting finalised its suggestions regarding an alternative system.
According to the meeting minutes available with Dawn, the HEC first considered complete waiver of the condition and then agreed on suggesting three alternatives to the SAT-II to the medical varsities; medical universities can design the preparatory courses for foreign students before they start their formal studies, the varsities may design their own test as an alternate to SAT-II, keeping in view the format of National Testing Service/National Aptitude Test (NTS/NAT) or the students may be asked to appear and pass NTS/NAT during their 1st year.
The HEC also informed the PMDC, the EAD, Islamabad and inter-provincial coordination ministry about the decision taken at the meeting.
Ghayyur Fatima informed the meeting the students from developing Islamic countries had been facing problems because of the SAT-II condition.
She said the HEC had also received requests from various Foreign Missions for waiving off the condition.
The envoys, besides voicing their concerns over the SAT-II condition, told the meeting that students from their countries preferred to study in Pakistan due to a common culture and after completion of their studies they mostly got good jobs. By studying here these students became ‘ambassadors of Pakistan’ in their respective countries, they said. That also provided an opportunity to these countries to strengthen their bilateral relations, they said.
However, the envoys were unanimous that due to the condition they were not able to send more students to Pakistan’s medical colleges.
“After listening to the concerns of envoys, the HEC chairperson assured (them of) all possible cooperation to address their problems,” the meeting minutes said.
The HEC chairperson also assured the envoys that the matter would be resolved before the start of the new academic session, the meeting minutes said.