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No more pharmacy colleges – for now

No more pharmacy colleges will be established in India for the next few years (with a few exceptions), as such institutes proliferate. 

There are more than 3,000 colleges teaching more than one lakh undergraduates nationwide, according to Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) president Dr Suresh Bhojraj. “[This] is adequate to meet the country’s need and to cater to the global health workforce,” he said. The decision was jointly taken by the PCI and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). 

AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe drew parallels between the pharmacy and engineering sectors in terms of education. “In the past few years, regulators had approved a huge number of engineering colleges, which resulted in surplus seats and eventually, the colleges had to be shut down because there were no takers. The motive behind the decision is to avoid a similar stagnation in the field of pharmacy.” 

The decision to freeze the establishment of new colleges was taken as 1,400 applications were submitted in the 2019-20 academic year, described by The Times of India as an “unprecedented number.” 841 approvals were granted. However, the spread of colleges throughout the country is uneven: according to Bhojraj, “the requests to start new colleges in 2019-20 were not geographically distributed and were originating only from a few states.” Uttar Pradesh alone accounted for 541 approvals. 

As such, pharmacy colleges will be permitted to be established in northeast India and any states where such facilities number less than fifty. “The conditional ban would avoid the lopsided growth of the institutions and the manpower availability vis-à-vis job opportunities, leading to planned growth in the states where such education and opportunities are required,” he said.

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