Medical university raises the bar for students to clear exams in Tamil Nadu

Raising the bar for medical education in Tamil Nadu, the state medical university on Thursday made it mandatory for students to score minimum 50% marks in each paper to clear examinations. Armed with a nod from the Medical Council of India (MCI) for raising the standards, Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University vice-chancellor Dr Mayil Vahanan Natarajan said the university was the first in the country to raise the minimum marks.
The university had withheld the first year MBBS results, which were to be announced on October 8, as it was awaiting MCI's opinion on whether it can increase the minimum marks required to clear the examination. Earlier, a student only needed an aggregate score of 50% in each subject. From now on, a student will have to score 50% in each paper. For example, a first year MBBS student will need 50% marks in each of the two anatomy papers to be promoted to the second year.
A senior university official said the first year MBBS results will be declared on Friday and said at least 40% of the students have failed to clear the examination. "But this time it is unlikely that we will revise the results," Dr Natarajan told reporters.
The rule was first introduced in 2011 and only 60% of the students managed to clear the examination. The failed students petitioned chief minister J Jayalalithaa and moved the Madras high court . After CM's intervention, the university decided to go back to the old system. Legal experts had advised the university to equip itself with permission from the MCI. On Thursday MCI secretary Sanjay Shrivastava wrote to the university registrar saying while all institutions are to stick to the guidelines set by the regulatory body, they are free to set a higher standard.
Dr Natarajan soon called a press conference to announce the new rules. "MCI has said we can frame higher standards. Raising the pass marks is one way to make medical training more rigorous. They can't say I failed in the anatomy first paper but scored high in the second paper," he said. "By 2013, the university will increase the minimum pass marks to 60%," he said.
Students took out a protest against the newly implemented rules at the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, which mandates a minimum 50% marks in each paper and the viva voce to pass. The university sees this as raising the standards, while students deem this unfair and cumbersome.

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