A bond that exploits nursing students

Nursing colleges in the city, especially those having hospitals or medical colleges of their own, are virtually exploiting their students even after they finish the course.

The situation is no different in a number of hospitals across the State with nurses being employed under the ‘bond system’. In this system, nurses cannot quit the hospitals during the bond period, three years for example, even if they get better opportunities elsewhere.

Realising the problem, the Indian Nursing Council (INC) issued a circular on August 29, 2011, banning the bond system. However, the system still exists in many nursing colleges.

Students are forced to sign an agreement with the college or with the hospital run by the same Trust.

They have to work for one or two years after finishing the course with a stipend decided by the college. Till the bond period gets over, the certificates are withheld.

The students are paid a meagre Rs 4,000 a month as stipend. Even from that amount, hostel fees, uniform allowance, etc, are deducted. The colleges force students to work for them, even after finishing the course paying the fees.

However, nursing colleges which do not have hospitals or medical colleges of their own, have no bond system. After the course, students can either work in a place of their choice or opt for higher studies.

Under the bond system, if a student wants to pursue higher studies, he or she must pay a compensation for breaking the bond. Usually the compensation is the stipend amount for the entire bond period.

If a nurse has a bond period of one year with a stipend of 4,500 a month and if he or she wants to quit after the course, he or she has to pay Rs 50,000 to the college for getting back the certificates.

Since most of the students are from other states and financially poor backgrounds, they suffer silently. The college authorities do not issue receipts for the payment received, so as not to leave any evidence.

In one famous college in Mangalore, students get a copy of the bond within one month of admission. They are instructed to buy a Rs-100 stamp paper in which they have to type the contents. The student (first party), surety (first party-2) and two witnesses have to sign the bond. The second party is the director of the educational trust.

If students don’t want to work in the same hospital or if he/she is breaking the bond in between, the compensation is Rs 50,000 for general nursing students and Rs 85,000 to Rs one lakh for BSc (Nursing) students.

Students who quit the college just days before the INC circular was issued stand to lose their money forever. The college authorities denied asking the students to pay up, citing no evidence of payment.

Registration delayed

There is also complaint from students that their registration with the Karnataka State Nursing Council (KSNC) has been unnecessarily delayed by college authorities citing vague reasons. “The delay in registration is affecting us badly. The work experience of a nurse counts from the date of registration with KSNC. But our registration was done only six months after the results were declared,” said a student.

A noted college in the city is taking Rs 2,500 each from students for registration without giving receipts, when the actual fees is just Rs 500. KSNC Registrar, H L Ramamurthy, also confirmed the actual fees to Deccan Herald.

Denial by colleges

When asked about the bond system, many college authorities denied it. The principal of a nursing college agreed there was a bond system, but was quiet about the bond-breaking compensation.

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