The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) has opened a portal for the new institutions to apply for approval to commence new pharmacy colleges, pursuant to an order from the Supreme Court.
The Council has clarified that mere submission of an application does not mean approval and further action would be subject to the outcome of the Supreme Court Judgement.
The portal has been launched following an order from the Supreme Court in connection with the complaint of around 2,500 pharmacy colleges against PCI’s five-year moratorium from 2020–21 on allowing new institutions.
The Supreme Court has recently directed the PCI to accept and process the applications from these institutions, though the final decision will be taken only based on further orders on the appeal filed by the PCI against a Delhi High Court order that was favorable to the colleges.
The portal opened on July 3 and will be open till July 15 for new institutions, said PCI in a circular. The institution will have to apply on the PCI portal along with all the pre-requisite statutory documents.
The application should be submitted only through the PCI portal within the prescribed date along with prescribed statutory documents and Pharmacy Education Regulatory Charges (PERC).
It has recently issued a circular with details of the statutory documents, qualifying criteria, the procedure for applying, pharmacy education regulatory charges, etc. The criteria are specified in various schemes related to approval of D.Pharm courses, B.Pharm courses, and M.Pharm course.
For D.Pharm, the number of seats permitted is 60, while for B.Pharm it is 60 or 100 seats, and for M.Pharm it is 15 per specialization. The institution is required to pay the registration fee, other PERC, and service fee. The last date for applying will not be extended under any circumstances, it said.
The pre-requisite statutory documents, which include the consent of affiliation of examining authority, the No Objection Certificate of the State Government, etc., shall clearly indicate that it is for the 2022–23 academic session.
The submission of these pre-requisite statutory documents is a mandatory requirement, added the PCI.
Further, under the Master of Pharmacy course Regulations, 2014, only those institutions which are established by the Central Government or State Government for the purpose of imparting post-graduate education shall be eligible for starting the M.Pharm course directly.
Institutions which are not approved for running B. Pharm courses under the Pharmacy Act are not eligible to apply for M.Pharm courses.
With the opening of the portal, almost all the petitioners who approached the Courts to vacate the moratorium are expected to apply for approval of new institutions and this, according to PCI, may have a huge impact on pharmacy education in the country.
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Already there are around 3,500 pharmacy colleges and if an additional 3,000 institutions approach the new colleges, it would impact the students and teachers and many colleges may not have adequate seats filled over a period of time, it expects.
The Council, therefore, has imposed a security deposit for the institutions, which could act as a net to the teachers and students if the college stops functioning after two or three years from approval.
While the security deposit also has to be paid by the existing institutions, the Council said that it will give a duration of three years for the existing institutions to pay the amount.
PCI, the statutory body working under the Union ministry of health and family welfare, in a circular dated July 17, 2019, said that during its 106th Central Council meeting a resolution was unanimously passed “to put a moratorium on the opening of new pharmacy colleges for running diploma as well as degree courses in pharmacy for a period of five years beginning from the academic year 2020-21”.
The moratorium shall not be applicable in the North Eastern region of the country where there is a shortage of pharmacy colleges.
The decision was taken after the meeting raised concerns about the mushrooming of pharmacy colleges in the country, considering there are around 1,985 D.Pharm and 1,439 B.Pharm institutes in the country. The annual intake of students in these institutes, both D.Pharm and B.Pharm, is 2.19 lakh.
This available workforce is enough to meet the current pharmacist-to-population needs of the country.
The rapid increase in the number of pharmacy colleges over the last decade may result in a shortage of trained and qualified teaching faculty which may affect the quality of education imparted to students.
The pass-out students are not getting reasonably paid job opportunities in public as well as in the private sector, said the Circular which was disputed by the colleges.
The Delhi High Court has set aside two circulars issued by the PCI in this connection, through an order on March 7, 2022, and the PCI has approached the Supreme Court against this.
The Supreme Court, which has issued an interim order advising the PCI to accept the applications and process them, is expected to further hear the matter later this month.
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