Saturday, 19 February 2005

Another toughie

I’ve got a comment on my piece on The Dilemma of Regulating Education. It raises a very important point and one that I missed out on – the quality of education imparted in these institutions. Particularly worrying is the quality of medical education.

This is another dilemma. Since these institutes will be churning out doctors who will be dealing with people’s lives, can we afford to wait for a purely market-driven correcting mechanism? But, as the author of the comment says, “legislative intervention might be more harmful than market design!”.

Is there an in between path relating to this aspect of education?

I guess accreditation by organizations like the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is the answer. These two are already in place, though reports about the quality of monitoring by the AICTE are not very good. One hasn’t heard negative reports about accreditation by the MCI, but I am willing to be corrected on this.

Yes, this is another toughie.

1 comment:

Sukrit Sabhlok said...

Getting a professional body to accredit medical doctors and the like would seem sensible. The danger is that instead of regulating quality, these organisations might end up regulating quantity in order to keep their wages artificially high. Without proper oversight, that would make them almost as bad as militant unions, and nearly as powerful.

Quantity controls are unacceptable in my mind because they convulute the market and cause shortages and surplus. The optimum level is not reached.

The better option would be to regulate quality through other ways, and make the joining of such a professional body an optional - not a compulsory - requirement for practicising doctors. It could perhaps be used as a sort of a quality marker to indicate that, "Yes, this doctor is affiliated with a professional body, but that doesn't necessarily mean he/she is better than another doctor I know who isn't, but who follows good practice according to government legislation all the same."

I'd recommend checking out the Australian system in this regard.

Quality can be enforced by an independent body (such as a university) through examinations and the like. This body would need to have the right incentives to remain separate from the issue of quantity.

But this issue of quality versus quantity controls by unions and the like is not restricted simply to the medical workforce. Lawyers and other professionals should be vetted for quality, not quantity, in a similar fashion.