FPJ Impact: As Huge Number Of Seats Vacant, No New Pharma College In 2024-25

FPJ Impact: As Huge Number Of Seats Vacant, No New Pharma College In 2024-25

During 2023-24, 14,355 out of 42,794 BPharm seats had no takers; FPJ highlighted worrying discrepancy last October

Musab QaziUpdated: Wednesday, March 06, 2024, 11:23 PM IST
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After almost one-third of seats in the pharmacy colleges across the state remained vacant this year, the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) has decided neither to permit any new pharma education institute nor to increase intake capacity of the existing ones for the upcoming academic year 2024-25. In October 2023, the Free Press Journal had highlighted the issue of unusually large number of vacancies in the state's pharmacy colleges. Currently, the state has 453 pharma degree colleges.

Pronouncement comes after DTE writes to PCI

The pronouncement came a fortnight ago after the state directorate of technical education (DTE) wrote to the PCI, the apex regulatory body of pharma education, seeking a pause on new colleges in the state. The DTE has also asked the Council to have a more vigorous approval process in place to avoid vacant seats.

"In view of the 25-30% vacant seats, we asked the PCI to streamline (the approval process), bring quality consciousness, approve only those institutes that meet the faculty and infrastructure norms, and do a more thorough inspection of the proposed colleges," said DTE Director Vinod Mohitkar. The PCI also agreed to the proposal of not approving any new college in the upcoming academic year. "Based on the PCI's letter to the government, we have also issued a circular announcing that no new college will be permitted this year," Mohitkar added.

57 new pharma colleges set up in this academic year

It was for the first time during the 2023-24 admissions that almost 14,355 out of 42,794 (33.54%) of Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) seats across the state had no takers. The void appeared to be a direct impact of 57 new pharma colleges being set up in this academic year, resulting in 11,000 more seats. Similarly, the number of institutes offering diploma in pharmacy (DPharm) also increased exponentially by 136, leading to vacancies at around 7,000 spots.

This isn't the first time that the PCI has put a halt on new pharma institutes. Noting the unabated growth in pharmacy institutes and the rising number of graduates, the Council, in July 2019, had put a nationwide 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.

Demand for pharmacy has remained flat over last two years

After a meteoric rise since 2016-17, the demand for pharmacy has remained flat over the last two years. However, it didn't stop the proliferation of pharma institutes across the state. The large-scale vacancies have worried the educators and industrialists that the pharma colleges may meet the fate of engineering institutes, which too lost appeal after an initial boom.

In January, the Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India had demanded a stop on new colleges, claiming that the large proportion of vacant seats will affect the quality of education, lead to unemployment among graduates and affect the teachers' salaries. The national body, in a letter to the state Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil, had alleged that the permissions were granted to new colleges without inspecting them.

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