It's a National Eligibility Entrance Test mess for medical aspirants
It was envisaged as a test that could save lakhs of medical aspirants the trouble of crisscrossing the country to write multiple entrance tests. But in its very first year of implementation, the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) has created more confusion for students than ease their burden.
Karnataka, for instance, had initially opposed the single entrance test. Subsequently, it decided to conduct the test but also chose to have its own entrance tests as well for medical and dental admissions.
"That's what created all the confusion. When NEET was proposed, the idea was to ban all other tests. But states now have NEET and their own tests which is meaningless. It has in fact worsened the situation. It's clearly a failure on the part of the state education department," sources in the Medical Council of India ( MCI) told TOI.
PRIVATE COLLEGES ADAMANT
Private colleges on their part have made it clear that it is impossible to accept NEET scores for post-graduate admissions this year. "Time is running out. We have to complete admissions by May 31. Even if NEET is thrust on us, it is a huge process. Colleges will have to invite applications and start the admission process all over again. That is not possible by May 31 because the verdict on NEET is expected by July," private college managements argued.
"The last date for admission is May 31. Since we don't have enough time, we have decided to wrap up the counselling process by then and then reach out to the SC with a request to extend the dates. We are doing so to ensure that seats are not wasted in case some remain unfilled," said DPrem Kumar, registrar, RGUHS.
Counselling dates have been fixed too. For dental counselling, it is May 23 and for medical, it will extend from May 24 to May 27.
Colleges say they are not opposed to a single entrance test but are against a clause that makes it mandatory for them to hand over 50% of the seats to the government. "This clause is against the Supreme Court judgment in the TMA Pai case which clearly says that the government cannot demand quota from private colleges during the seat-sharing process," pointed out a former VC of a medical university.
Yet another argument is that of uniform fee structure. If NEET comes into force, there will be a single fee structure for all categories of students. At present, in Karnataka, there is a differential fee structure for government and management quota.
As for under-graduate courses, the solution lies only with the state government. With NEET scheduled to be held on May 18, students who are preparing to appear for it are unclear if colleges in Karnataka will accept their scores.
"We are in a situation where the state government must decide whether NEET scores will be valid or not so that students' efforts don't go waste. Even if the RGUHS and the state education department decide on accepting the NEET scores, it will need the cabinet approval. With a full government not in place, this might be difficult," the sources pointed out.
It's disheartening that a stand-off between two entities is harming the future of lakhs of students. MCI's intention to have a single test that will unburden students and democratise the medical admission process is well-meaning but it should have anticipated opposition from private college lobbies before implementing it. Now students have the onerous task of writing the state exams as well as NEET but unsure if the NEET score will be accepted by the state. This is duplication of an admission process and needless waste of time, money and effort. When laudable measures like NEET or RTE are set to be enforced, the implementing body must ensure they are watertight measures with little scope for ambiguity.