The Union health ministry on Tuesday approved the proposal of the MCI to make it mandatory to pass NEET to obtain an eligibility certificate (EC) to pursue courses in foreign medical colleges.
Students intending to study undergraduate medical courses in foreign universities will have to take National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), a move that will affect about a couple of thousand students who apply for such courses in China, Russia and other countries each year.
The Union health ministry on Tuesday approved the proposal of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to make it mandatory to pass NEET to obtain an eligibility certificate (EC) to pursue courses in foreign medical colleges.
“It has come to notice that medical institutions / Universities of foreign countries admit Indian students without proper assessment or screening of the students’ academic ability to cope up with medical education with the result that many students fail to qualify the Screening Test,” read the health ministry order.
A common national entrance exam— NEET— is mandatory for admission to all medical courses in the country.
Of the 12 lakh aspirants who take NEET for undergraduate medical course every year, six lakh clear the exam for about 68,000 MBBS seats. The rest try for dental and Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) courses. On average, about four lakh students are left to look for other avenues each year.
An estimated two to three thousand students go abroad to study medicine.
Students have to qualify through a screening test called the Foreign Medical Graduates Exam (FMGE) for registration to practice in India after obtaining a primary medical qualification (MBBS) overseas.
“Only about 10-15% of those who take FMGE are able to clear it. There were complaints that the exam was tough, so we formed an expert committee to look at the exam structure. The committee didn’t find the exam tough,” said Arun Singhal, joint secretary, health ministry.
“It speaks a lot about the quality of students and education, and what we are getting in return. Currently, anyone who scores 50% in 12th boards is eligible to go abroad to study medicine. These days scoring 50% isn’t very difficult, which is why MCI proposed making NEET mandatory,” Singhal said.
Overseas citizens of India intending to obtain primary medical qualification abroad, on or after May 2018, also have to mandatorily pass NEET.
“This way we can also ensure that students going abroad to study are quality students,” said Singhal.