NEET, the pan-India examination for medical admissions, was introduced to eradicate the confusion caused by multiple agencies conducting entrance tests across the country. With the delay in results, however, medical seat aspirants who don’t want to risk the wait choose engineering seats through CET allotments and are forced to cover the tuition fee for all four years if they want to switch streams, with original documents held ransom by colleges to ensure payments. Filling medical, IIT and IIIT seats before CET admissions begin willmake things easier for students and colleges. So what’s standing in the way, asks Shrinivasa M.
Manoj Kumar (name changed) graduated from a reputed PU college in Bengaluru with scores that deemed him eligible for entry into the top colleges in the country. Like most other students, Kumar has spent his summer attempting a battery of entrance exams. With a perfect score (400/400) in his core subjects – Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology and an overall percentage of 97.2, Kumar is understandably confident of bagging an MBBS seat or gaining admission into one of the city’s best engineering colleges through his CET score.
His academic achievements, however seem to have landed him in a quandary: he must accept the engineering seat allotted to him through the CET counselling process or await his NEET ranking at the risk of losing a year. If he does decide to accept an engineering seat and switch streams later, he will, in all likelihood, be made to cover tuition costs for four years, to compensate for the loss the college will face.
“My rank doesn’t worry me as much as the way in which counselling is conducted,” he admitted. “If NEET results are delayed and the Karnataka Examination Authority starts the allotment process, I need to select a seat quickly because I don’t know where I stand in the medical rankings. If I do get a medical seat later, I will have to pay the engineering college the four-year fee in full to get my original documents.” For a student placed through CET, this amounts to about Rs 2 lakh.
The delay in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), which regulates admissions to medical colleges across the country, will cost thousands of students dearly. NEET was introduced in 2013 to eradicate the confusion and stress caused to students by various exam agencies and to regulate admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in medicine.
However, they will now begin counselling for medical seats, the most sought after in the country, only after thousands of engineering seats have already been allocated through CET, by the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) and scheduled to begin by the third week of June. Meritorious students who accept admission into engineering colleges are forced to cover the tuition fee for all four years if they want to switch back to the medical stream.
Officials from the Karnataka Examination Authority and the State Higher Education Department are aware of the problem too. “The only option is to conduct all the counselling together,” said an officer from the Higher Education Department. Colleges, he explained, can’t be blamed for demanding compensation for a seat abandoned after the admissions process is complete will remain vacant for the next four years. “One solution is to extend the BE admissions process upto July 30 to ensure that those who switch to the medical stream after obtaining a seat don’t face any difficulties. That way, colleges won’t suffer losses either.”
Sharath Gowda, a II PUC student
The state government must direct both KEA and COMEDK to hold off on the allotment of engineering seats atleast until the first round of MBBS / BDS counselling is complete. CBSE, which conducts NEET, must coordinate with state-run agencies to ensure that this happens. Every year, thousands of students are affected by poor coordination between state and central agencies involved in holding examinations and allotting seats.
Official, State Higher Education Department
The state government is doing its best to ensure that students are not affected by the delay in the NEET results. We have already proposed holding a final round of counselling at the end of July to ensure that seats which fall vacant after medical / dental allotments are filled up too, so that neither students nor the colleges concerned face untoward difficulties. The state has also moved the Supreme Court with respect to the counselling procedure for engineering seats.
L Sharatraju, academician
Floating a single national level examination authority is the way forward. Else every year these kind of confusions hit the admission process.
‘Heera’ a gamechanger, must be implemented
The empowerment of higher educational institutions seems to top the government's priority list, with the proposal of the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency or HEERA. If the proposal is brought into effect, HEERA will replace the MHRD-run University Grants Commission and the All India Council of Technical Education, after which it will work to curb superfluous regulatory provisions and grant institutions the autonomy they deserve. The proposal has been widely lauded by industry experts, who feel that HEERA should also encompass the Medical and Dental Council of India.
Speaking to this newspaper, an official from the Ministry of Human Resource Development said that HEERA could potentially bring revolutionary changes to the higher education sector, which has been reeling under several issues related to poor governance. "Today, everything is controlled by the UGC, including payscales of non-teaching faculty. On the other hand, nothing has been done on frontiers like research, improving the gross enrollment ratio or building world class universities," he said. "There is an urgent need for quality intervention. HEERA is expected to attract experts from across sectors to revamp the higher education system."
Despite its merits, the move is a bold one and academics argue that the decision should have been taken after debate and discussion. And implementation is key. A retired Vice Chancellor saiid that scrapping UGC and AICTE, although bold, may negatively impact the higher education sector. "When the UPA II came to power in 2009, the then higher education minister, Kapil Sibal, proposed radical changes. Most of those, however, remained on paper. I hope HEERA doesn't meet with a similar fate. Academic researcher Krup Gurukiran, the central government should bring the MCI under the ambit of the proposed body. "The demand for reforms in the UGC and AICTE has existed for years. It's surprising that the central government and NITI Ayog have left MCI and DCI untouched. Reforms are crucial in both these sectors as they directly impact the quality of healthcare available in India."
Fill medical, IIT seats before CET admissions: Prof. K Balaveera Reddy, Former Vice Chancellor, VTU
The central government introduced the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test in the hope of eliminating the many evils associated with admissions to medical and dental colleges. NEET ensured the elimination of problems like multiple admission tests and the counselling associated with them, seat blocking, to name a few.
States, however, should have ensured, that NEET counselling doesn’t clash with that offered by local agencies like KEA. Ideally, counselling for CET and COMEDK admissions should be conducted only after the medical and dental admissions, which means that top-ranking medical aspirants will be placed first and not have to undergo the hassle of sitting through counselling for courses they would prefer not to choose! If local authorities believe this is too long a wait, they should atleast allow the first round of NEET counselling to be completed before they begin their own.
The method followed in Karnataka is not correct, for students bear the brunt of the confusion that ensues if CET counselling is completed before the NEET results. Students who then get MBBS / BDS seats are forced to pay the full tuition fee at the engineering colleges to which they have been given entry, if they want to switch streams. The centre and the state must work together to intervene and protect the interests of the students.
NEET is conducted by the CBSE board and seats are allotted by the various state governments, which means that the centre and state are both stakeholders. I suggest that the state government issue directions to both the Karnataka Examination Authority and COMEDK, asking them not to conduct counselling for engineering seats until the first round of NEET counselling is done. This is a simple solution and the need of the hour.
NEET medical and dental counselling must happen first, as these are the most sought after seats and cater largely to top-ranking students who specifically wish to study medicine. The IIT admission process should be carried out next, followed by the IIITs, to ensure that meritorious students take their pick from the top layer of institutions, leaving the rest, who don’t aspire to any of these facilities, to compete through CET and COMEDK. This will protect the students’ interests and deprive engineering colleges of the chance to make a quick buck as they mitigate their own losses.