Officials warn over dubious medical degrees from Chinese, Russian schools

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) is working to ensure that medical graduates from programmes in China and Russia will not be able to practice in Pakistan [Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP]

Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) is working to ensure that medical graduates from programmes in China and Russia will not be able to practice in Pakistan [Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP]

PESHAWAR -- Chinese and Russian medical schools are handing out dubious degrees to Pakistani students unable to gain admission to schools at home but willing to pay large tuition fees for a diploma abroad, officials are warning.

Medical schools in Russia and China, with the support of their respective governments, earn hard currency from foreign students, particularly Pakistani nationals who are easily lured by recruiters of these schools, according to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), the regulator of medical education in the country.

These students lack the qualifications for Pakistani medical schools, said Sardar Ali, a senior official of the PMDC.

"Those seeking medical degrees from China and Russian are unable to obtain admission in Pakistani medical colleges, which not only require high marks on intermediate examinations but also on entrance tests," Ali said.

A roadside sign in Peshawar, shown June 3, targets potential medical school students for admission to universities in China, Russia and other countries. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

A roadside sign in Peshawar, shown June 3, targets potential medical school students for admission to universities in China, Russia and other countries. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

Recruiters for Chinese medical schools wait for students at a hotel in Peshawar March 2. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

Recruiters for Chinese medical schools wait for students at a hotel in Peshawar March 2. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

Once enrolled in these medical schools, many students are later sent back home because they cannot afford the stiff fees that both the recruiters and the schools demand for their admissions.

"We have been issuing warnings to parents and students against studying in both these countries, but they continue to seek degrees by spending huge amounts of money," Ali said.

Many medical students returning to Pakistan as "doctors" with a deficient education endanger their patients' lives, he said.

"On completion of their degrees, they cause hardships for patients back home because the standard of medical education is extremely weak compared to that in Pakistan, where highly intelligent students become medical doctors," he added.

The issue has caught the attention of the Pakistani government, which has asked the embassies of both countries to stop luring Pakistani students, said Ali.

Taking advantage of students

Although a few recognised universities and colleges in Russia and China accept students only on merit, most accept any applicant who is willing to pay their fees, which are often as much as $1,000 to $2,000 (Rs. 164,550 to 329,100) a month, said Dr. Taj Muhammad, secretary of the Pakistan Medical Association.

On the other hand, students pay $800 (Rs. 131,640) per year in tuition fees at Pakistani public sector medical colleges.

On average, more than 200,000 students from 160 countries receive medical degrees from China every year, Muhammad said.

"But most of the substandard colleges and universities capitalise on these average students for their revenue and earn millions of dollars from students who arrive there from all over the world, including Pakistan," he said.

The Russian and Chinese governments are turning a blind eye to the inferior medical colleges because they value the taxes paid by these businesses, Ali said.

"There is a massive network of hostels in cities in both countries that house overseas students studying engineering, business, economics and dentistry too," he added. "The examination system isn't as strict as is in Pakistan, where the students have to work hard to pass."

The admissions process for foreign students was much easier than in Pakistan or in European countries outside Russia, said Muhammad Rafiq, who completed his bachelor of medicine-bachelor of surgery degree at a university in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China.

"My parents wanted me to become a doctor, and I fulfilled their wish. I spent about $70,000 (Rs. 11.4 million) in six years, but I got a degree," he said.

"In Pakistan, I couldn't be admitted even to a private college let alone in the public sector medical schools because of high merit" requirements, Rafiq said. "There were about 500 Pakistani students at my college."

Barring graduates of inferior schools

The PMDC is working to ensure that medical graduates from programmes in China and Russia will not be able to practice in Pakistan, said Choudhry Mohammad Shakoor, an official at the PMDC.

"In January 2020, the PMDC decided that students obtaining degrees in China or Russia will not have jobs in Pakistan," he said.

The proposal so far has not taken effect. Shakoor did not specify whether the policy, if enacted, would compel doctors who are already working to cease their practices.

"We are in contact with the Chinese and Russians as well as Central Asian countries to curb the practice of giving admission to weak students in their universities," he said.

The PMDC aims to require students who head to medical schools in both of these countries to seek the Pakistani government's permission so that they are aware of the quality of the schools that they plan to attend, he said.

Meanwhile, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission (HCC) said it has been raiding clinics to save patients from malpractice.

"We have arrested over a dozen doctors with unrecognised degrees from China and Russia in the past few months," said HCC Director Suhail Ahmed.

"We don't allow degrees from foreign medical colleges that aren't included in the World Directory of Medical Schools," he said.

Medical schools in Russia and China have been deceiving and extorting large amounts of money from students in Pakistan who intend to pursue medical education abroad, said Suhail.

"The institutions there have neither good hospitals for clinical training nor good examination systems. The main focus is on making money. So it works both ways -- the colleges earn money and the students obtain medical degrees," he said.

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14 Comment(s)

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yeah, its the best decision. because pakistani students work hard in fsc and then entry test to secure admission in medical. Pakistani medical students are hustlers, but the students who go to russia and china are all those who r rejected from pakistani institues. and a lot of people who r supporting russia and china doctors in comment section should think that those doctors also wanted to study in pakistan. thet didnt choose russia or china by their choice, they chose it bcoz they were not able to get admission in pakistan... WORK HARD AND DONT USE SHORTCUTS :)


The scenario is not always the same. There are many other reasons due to which pakistani students go to china. There are Embassy jobs and people associated with MUFA too. Don't give backlash to others without knowing the possibilities. In china, the standard of education is really high and as long as medical education is concerned, it's a respected degree but as China is moving fast, so the doctors are not much paid here and they have difficult routines which is an actual drawback. Otherwise, studying from a prestigious university which's recognized by WHO couldn't bering disappointments. People need to observe that every picture has a dark side but it's not the picture that's dark so please stop demotivating others. People dream to leave Pakistan and if someone is really leaving their homecountry then it actually means something and that person has a passiom!


You have no idea. I don’t know who paid you to write this. But for your information, the graduates from china and russia pass their fcps 1 first attempt. 2nd, why were Pakistani graduates crying about nle exam because they knew they couldn’t pass those equivalency exams. And in china, students do research as well. Lame article.


this is a bullshit statement that every person getting degree from these two countries are not capable. There are more than 70000 students who apply for the govt universities in Pak but only 3500 able to get admissions as limited seats are available. The rest of 66500 students are not capable of becoming Doctor? No it is system failure that we are not able to extent the number of seats of students over the 70 years despite of drastic increase in population. So PMDC should allow students to get education from abroad but some list of reputed universities must be approved in this regard. Don"t by so harsh. Be thoughtful while deciding these important maters.


So pmdc thinks most of those foreign doctors having poor medical knowledge. They are lethal. I am wondering 1.5 million quakes working in health sectors in every gali mohallah how they got license?. What actions pmdc can take against those road side hiv dentists? Mind ur word. From last 6 months we are seeing tussle between the pro govt PAKISTAN MEDICAL ATHOURTITY and PMDC. Sorry to say there is no regulator in this country. Pathetic medical and dental authority


Just a few points. 1. Not a single medical university is having a better ranking than even the lowest ranking university in China. 2. All of these students after coming to Pakistan, go through a 3 step scrutiny before getting license to practice in Pakistan. 3. This news is bullshit and this so called official must be drunk at the moment he said it. If your highest ranking institution is still lower in ranking than the lowest In China, you can only bar Chinese graduates in your dreams. Yeah they should take steps to ensure quality but at least be practical in your approach.


So i have one simple question if the standard of medical education is so high in this country , why is the health system such a disaster, Pakistan has one of the lowest ranking in critical bed care and Health care index


Absolutely right


After reading the article I found the write is a non sensible person and he even don't know about the standard of medical colleges in China. Most of Pakistani students graduated frm world ranking universities. Where no Pakistani university in the list yet. Have you ever thought about Pakistani senior Dr & engineering who seek master degree frm Chinese universities and our govt always ask help frm those Chinese hospitals you are pointing them is not qualified. Being FMG'S I condemn this and the writer must feel ashamed of himself. After graduation every student degree get verified by embassy and PMDC and give eligibility for their qualifications to attend one of the hardest license EXAM (NEB) in World for RMP (3 exams 1 basic 2 clinical & 3 one is viva on both basic and clinical). In short I'll say rise your standards instead of demolition or pointing other standards universities


This whole news is spread just to demoralize fmges. They have put a standard exam after which fmgs are allowed for govt job. then why they are saying that they are not educated. Chinese universities have far better hospital infrastructure then us. Fee in china and central asian countries is half then in Pakistani private colleges. If you have problem with foreign medical schools then why don't you start your own medical colleges. If foreign graduates study in bribe then local private graduates are also studying on high fees, they should also be Not eligible for medical practices. In Pakistan we can see a new news every month but without solid basis. If govt officials will show this type of behavior what we can expect about our countries future. Most of foreign medical graduate pass usmle and plab and work in usa and British. but they didn't object. does Pakistan have more developed infrastructures or they didn't trust on their own exam.


Pakistani can not compare to other countries in next 100 years , China and Russia medical health system is much advance , China defeated corona virus , hence Pakistan is still on progress , those pakistani foreign medical graduates can work in UK there they don't have such issue but this idiot knows that those students are having lack knowledge , I challenge to Pakistani graduate to come over in front of Pakistani foreign medical graduate then you would know how much knowledge do have , here in Pakistan medical graduates they pass exam with the help of past papers if I am wrong then correct me .


The standard and facility that we had in overseas Pak can’t even reach there in coming 10 year here every body know that Straw dogs and cats are running freely in operation theater During surgeries they need to look at this issue seriously, plus we are not buying what you really wana sell,they come through proper criteria, by passing The pmdc Exam which is one hella of hack ,


Pakistani private medical college mafias are trying to demoralize this so they can get benefits from the students who cant get admissions in gov unis, that's why foreign graduates facing problem because most of staffs of pmdc and pma are bribed or are in this mafia . No matter how much they try to spread this type of messages they stop student going abroad specially to China, just because couple students incompetence u can't judge the whole batch . There are thousands of good practicing doctors who are graduated from abroad . They way experienced than the locals if they have their pg from abroad too . Our medical system is nothing compared to theirs specially china everyone know about it now . If don't do you research . Most of these students availed these opportunities and have achieved very good knowledge and experience from these institutes . So don't come into scams of these bogus private unis mafias.


Foriegn medical graduates take 3 steps examination in pakistan which is under taken by famous universities of pakistan like NUMS.By raising objections on FMGS you have actually challenged these universities and their professors