Maharashtra: Pharmacy Teachers Association Urges Government To Halt Approvals Amid 14,000 Vacant Seats Crisis

Maharashtra: Pharmacy Teachers Association Urges Government To Halt Approvals Amid 14,000 Vacant Seats Crisis

The teachers’ body claimed that the large proportion of vacant seats has had an adverse impact on their salaries and quality of education.

Rahul MUpdated: Monday, January 15, 2024, 09:57 PM IST
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With over 14,000 seats in Maharashtra’s Pharmacy colleges going vacant this year, the Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI), has asked the government not to permit any Pharma institute for the next academic year.

APTI, a national organisation, raised this issue last month in a letter to the state Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil. The teachers’ body claimed that the large proportion of vacant seats has had an adverse impact on their salaries and quality of education.

The FPJ had reported that for the first time, almost one-third of Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) seats across the state had no takers at the 2023-24 admissions. This appears to be a direct impact of 57 new Pharma colleges being set up in this academic year, resulting in 11,000 more seats being made available to BPharm aspirants.

Similarly, the number of institutes offering a Diploma in Pharmacy (DPharm) also increased exponentially by 136, leading to vacancies at around 7,000 spots. The large-scale vacancies have the educators and industrialists worried that the Pharma colleges may meet the fate of engineering institutes, which too ran out of favour after an initial boom.

In its letter, APTI said that the new institutes were permitted despite a lack of demand for Pharmacy. It also alleged that the state universities granted temporary affiliation to the new colleges without inspecting them, paving the way for a final approval by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), the apex regulator of Pharma education.

“The new degree institutes were permitted to offer the maximum 100 seats, up from the minimum 60, for BPharm in their first year. Many existing colleges were allowed to add post-graduation programmes, even though these institutes haven’t been evaluated by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) or National Board of Accreditation (NBA). This caused a flood of Pharma institutes in Maharashtra,” read the letter.

The association has pointed out that the state can prevent more vacancies and improve the Pharma education quality by refusing its approval for the new institutes and additional seats or courses in the existing colleges. “If the seats in renowned colleges go vacant, it will lead to unemployment and hurt the students,” it said.

Data from the state Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell and the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) shows that the BPharm enrollment in the state steadily increased from 11,305 in 2016-17 to 27,583 in 2021-22 before settling around 28,000 in 2022-23 and 2023-24. However, in this period, the tally of Pharma colleges kept rising from 168 to 453, multiplying the intake capacity from 11,588 to 42,794.

The tally of Pharma colleges also surged in tandem in this period from 168 to 453, with more than 50 new institutes approved this year alone by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), the apex statutory body of the discipline. The intake capacity for BPharm also multiplied from 11,588 to 42,794, far exceeding the number of students.

Noting the unabated growth in pharmacy institutes and graduates, PCI, in July 2019, had put a moratorium on starting new colleges offering diploma and degree programmes. However, the decision was set aside by the Delhi High Court in March 2022, in response to multiple petitions by educational bodies. The verdict was later upheld by the Supreme Court SC.

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