Back in the year when I started my Bachelor’s in Physiotherapy, there were 2 physiotherapy colleges in state of Punjab, and overall there must have been about a 100 colleges of physiotherapy totally in India. Physiotherapy was considered to be really a good degree which gave you a chance for a bright future with plenty of job opportunities and further growth. Over the years, this scenario has considerably changed. The number of colleges opening and closing, receiving accreditation from IAP seem to be growing exponentially over the years. 176 colleges are listed on the IAP website, but I guess the real number would be nearer 350 (just a guess, might even be higher).
This has led to fraudulent and low quality providers selling degrees rather than imparting education. They threaten the validity of physiotherapy education by offering credentials and degrees that are costly but of dubious educational value.
Some of the common practices of these ‘degree mills’ include –
· You can earn the degree in significantly less time than the normal course duration.
· You do not need to attend the regular classes.
· You can just come in on the day of exam to write the exam and then get the degree or even worse, you can write your exam at home.
· The college lets you buy the percentage of marks.
· The college might be located in a single room or worse have only a PO Box address.
· The college is affiliated to some University o dubious reputation.
· You can choose whichever stream of physiotherapy you want to specialise in, if you want to do MPT as an added course alongwith completing your BPT.
As shown above, students who get degrees by these means, would not have the clinical skills and knowledge to assess, diagnose or treat patients effectively and would thus prefer to be medically directed, thus bringing the profession to disrepute.
The problem is not only with the colleges wanting to make quick money and defraud the system. The qualified physiotherapists who run their own practice and do not have the time or intention to undertake MPT or PhD, sit at home and do these specialist degrees and higher education, just for getting the degrees. They are already earning a lot of money through their clinical practice, but a PhD or MPT looks better then a BPT, therefore they pay a part of their earnings towards getting a higher degree which can then become a suffix in their name, so instead of Mr John Doe, it can be Dr John Doe, BPT, MPT, PhD, MIAP, while they have not set foot in the college after completing their BPT.
Physiotherapists in India have been sidelined with lots of non issues like ‘Dr prefix’ to enable corrupt officials in IAP continue their activity of giving recognition to colleges which lack even the basic requirements of providing BPT education, forget about MPT and PhD.
The question is - Can we do anything about these?