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Medical students protest in front of the University of Health Sciences
Medical students protest in front of the University of Health Sciences last week in Phnom Penh, appealing for officials to reduce the fee of the coming national exam. Pha Lina

Med school stands firm on fee

Despite outcry from medical students, the government is refusing to reduce the latest in a string of proposed fee hikes, this one nearly doubling the charge for the University of Health Science’s exit exam.

Last week, 50 student representatives for the 200 exam candidates protested outside the campus hoping to dissuade the administration from charging students $125 for the final practicum that previously cost $75.

Last year, the student protesters were able to successfully petition for no exam fee increase, but this year’s aspiring doctors had no such luck.

In a letter sent to the university’s rector on Friday, the National Exam Committee at the Council of Ministers maintained that the fee hike was necessary to cover the rising costs of the test.

“The committee would like to stabilise the fees for the national exam at $25 for the theory section and $100 for clinical skills segment,” Seng Limnov, director of the exam committee, wrote in the letter.

“We spend a lot on the exam paper … and on other materials for students to be evaluated during the exam. The committee is unable to earn any other funding asides from charging the students.”

Aspiring medical school graduates yesterday expressed disappointment at this newest spike in costs for their degree. In November, the University of Health Sciences, the state’s main medical school, raised the price of tuition and the entrance exam.

“The [graduation] exam fee is still a problem for me, but when they say it is appropriate and it cannot be discounted, it is like cutting off a bridge, so we have nothing to protest anymore,” said Chan Ngoc, one of the students slated to take the exit exam.

The protesters’ second demand, however – to raise the cut-off age for the exam candidates from 30 to 35 – has so far gone unaddressed.

The Council of Ministers said the issue was up to the ministries of health and education, both of which were unavailable to comment yesterday.

But if the age bar on the exam is not lifted or at least raised, students guaranteed another protest will be scheduled soon.

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