The Supreme Court of India last year notified that NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) will be mandatory for admission in MBBS/BDS courses across the country. After the order, many NRI (Non- Resident Indians) and PIO (Person of Indian Origin) aspirants lost their medical seats as their selection was done through board marks. The notification issued by CBSE on January 31 for NEET 2017 has clearly mentioned that NRI/PIO/OCI and other foreign nationals will have to take NEET from this year in order to qualify for counselling for MBBS/BDS seats across the country.
Even before the notification was out, NRI/PIO/OCI candidates had started preparing for the examination this year, but, it will still be a huge challenge for NRI aspirants to compete with Indian aspirants. This will be the first time that the NRI/PCI/OCI aspirants have to compete for medical seats in the country, as they used to get reservation earlier. “I feel this is very unfair for aspirants like us as we have no coaching classes to prepare ourselves for the exam like the ones in India. They begin preparation quite early for the competitive examinations, which makes it easier for them to score well,” said an aspirant from Saudi Arabia, who didn’t wish to disclose her identity.
Talking about the limited options for preparation for a medical entrance examination like NEET, the aspirant said they need to depend mostly on online resources. “The quota given to NRI candidates was not to take advantage of the reservation. On the contrary, it was there to support candidates from foreign soil, to get a chance to work in the country that they feel is their own,” said the aspirant.
Criticizing the upper age limit of 25 years for both 15% AIQ and state quota seats, another NRI aspirant Prateek Chouda said, “I wanted to apply for the NEET 2017 as I was preparing for the last six months for it. But, the regulations set by CBSE putting an upper age limit of 25, will ruin my chances of taking the exam.” Prateek is currently working as a Software Engineer in a US-based company and wants to work as a medical practitioner in India.
The regulation and lack of coaching are not the only problems. Syllabus and pattern of examination will also be a challenge for NRI medical aspirants. “We follow the CBSE International syllabus, which is not in tandem with the one followed in India. There are some chapters which are completely new to me. In such a short span of time before the exam, CBSE wants us to mug up and take NEET,” said the aspirant from Saudi Arabia. Chouda is also of the view that coming up with new regulations suddenly will affect the performance of aspirants.
“Students in India have the unfair advantage of not only having better access to the relevant syllabus, but also access to coaching facilities. By allowing NRIs admissions to medical institutes in India under a special quota, we were at least assured of receiving an education in India. Unlike other quotas, where fees are waived, we pay upto three times the amount in fees for the same course as a general category student. With this move to enforce NEET on NRI students, the authorities are making it difficult, if not impossible for us to study in India,” concluded the aspirant from Saudi Arabia.