NEET 2016: Has it solved the problems it set out to address?

Every year, lakhs of medical aspirants had to travel all over the country for the 50 odd entrance examinations for medical and dental seats, as almost every major college and state had their own version of entrance exams. This meant a hefty investment of time and money for aspirants and their parents.

This is when the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) came into the picture, promising to provide a single platform to conduct medical examination across the country. The NEET was ordered to be imposed by the Supreme Court on April 28, 2016, to which initially both MCI (Medical Council of India) and government of India agreed. However, in a turn of events the central government, due to demand from many of the states, students and parents, decided to introduce an ordinance and partially go against the verdict of the Supreme Court on May 20, 2016. The ordinance made it possible for state-run government medical colleges to skip NEET for the academic session 2016-17 and made it compulsory for the private and deemed universities.

Unregulated fees in private/deemed colleges

Though, the private and deemed universities agreed to take admission of students on the basis of NEET scores (as ordered by the apex court), when it came to the details of admission procedure, there is a lack of transparency. There is no centralized regulatory authority in the country, which can fix the private and deemed medical and dental college fees. According to DMER (Directorate of Medical Education & Research) website data, the private colleges are charging anywhere between 7 to 10 lakhs per annum for MBBS course in Maharashtra. In the website of the deemed university D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Mumbai, the tuition fees of MBBS is mentioned to be Rs. 16 lakhs per annum.

A medical aspirant Charvi Dhamija from Haryana, who had high hopes with NEET this year, got disappointed when she came to know about the towering fees charged by the private and deemed colleges in her state. She secured AIR (All India Ranking) of 13822 in NEET and couldn’t take admission in any government medical college in Haryana. “There are only four government colleges in Haryana and the competition is very high. With the kind of fees charged by the private and deemed colleges, it is impossible for me to get admission in any of the institutes this year,” said Charvi.

Lack of centralized counselling process for private/deemed institutes

Though the private and deemed universities agreed to take admission of students on the basis of NEET scores, they denied to conduct a centralized counselling procedure. In protest of the state resolution making deemed university admissions to take place under centralized counselling, institutes like DY Patil – Kolhapur and Pune, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences and Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences in Maharashtra had moved to the Bombay High Court. They demanded separate counselling for the deemed university colleges. Eventually, the High Court on August 30, 2016 declared that the deemed universities will be allowed to conduct their own counselling sessions.

A senior official of a reputed deemed university in Maharashtra said that they are now going to follow the court orders and conduct their admission procedure for the year. He stated, “The Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 allows the deemed to be universities to carry out their own entrance examination and admission procedure. The state should not put any cap on it.”

Another aspirant Harshita Bhushan from Delhi, who had given NEET this year, expressed her anger over twitter by criticizing the confusing procedure for admissions this year.

The deemed university medical and dental colleges are demanding between Rs. 2,000-5,000 in Maharashtra, as registration fees for admission. Separate counselling for various private/deemed universities will mean that aspirants will have to register themselves for the individual colleges, shelling more money as registration fees.

Future of the medical aspirants in jeopardy

While speaking to PaGalGuy, RTI activist and Biology expert for medical entrance exams in Kota, Dr. Amit Gupta said that the recent verdict of the Bombay High Court, which allowed deemed universities to conduct their own counselling procedure, is a violation of the earlier Supreme Court verdict passed by the three justice bench headed by Justice Dave.

Anju Meswani, a parent of a medical aspirant in Mumbai also showed her angst in the social media and slammed the entire admission procedure through a tweet. She seemed worried about the whole process that is increasing trouble for both parents and students in the state.

Dr. Gupta further stated, “Due to the high fees structure in most of the private and deemed medical/dental colleges in the country, the parents will be inclined to send their wards to overseas countries like Russia, China, Philippines, South America etc. for medical education, which will be relatively less costly.”