THAT all 63 students of a private pharmacy college of Sangrur chose to skip their exam on Thursday at a centre with CCTV cameras lays bare the ills afflicting such colleges and emphasises the need to step up efforts to set things right. The en masse absence of examinees from a place equipped to catch those involved in unfair practices clearly reveals the sham that many private colleges offering the pharmacy diploma course are and the scams they have been indulging in.
Since 2020, around 100 private pharmacy colleges in Punjab have been under the scanner of the Vigilance Bureau over suspected irregularities in admissions and conduct of examination in the two-year diploma course. A widely circulated video in which some students are heard discussing how they could acquire the pharmacy diploma by taking the exam without having to attend classes had alerted the authorities. The colleges had been reportedly resorting to dummy admissions and assuring the students of ‘help’ in the exams for a ‘special fee’ of around Rs 3 lakh. Within a couple of months, it led to the detection of mass copying by students of seven private colleges of Sangrur district alone, with all their answer sheets matching word for word. Quick action followed. A re-exam was ordered; action was initiated against the ‘errant’ institutes to cancel their affiliation; flying squad invigilators were also put in the dock. In 2019, the Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training had ordered two pharmacy colleges of Sangrur to shut down after dummy admissions were detected.
The decision to hold exams in the glare of CCTV cameras is part of course correction to clean up the system. Imposing strict penalty on those found guilty is necessary as pharmacists are vital cogs of the healthcare industry.
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