November 25, 2009

Now, entrance test for courses in Indian medicine

An independent entrance test for degree courses in Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani; annual assessments and gradation of colleges and 14 new diploma courses on specialisation in Ayurveda, are some of the key changes that are in the offing on a country-wide basis for studies in traditional Indian medicine.

President of the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) Raghunandan Sharma told TOI in an exclusive interview here on Saturday: "The move to have a separate entrance test was finalised on Friday at a meeting of representatives from the council and the Union health ministry's department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH)." The CCIM is the apex regulatory body for education in traditional Indian medicine.

According to Sharma, the need to ensure timely completion of the annual admission process for degree courses in Indian medicine has spurred to decision for entrance test. "Medical (MBBS) and dental (BDS) courses often consume a major portion of the admission period for health sciences," he said.

As a consequence, the colleges offering studies in Indian medicine end up running against the October 31 cut-off date set by the Supreme Court for completion of admissions, he added. "Also, they (colleges) have to be content with the leftover of the aspirants for health science seats," he said.

In Maharashtra, the MHT-CET, a combined entrance test for health sciences, engineering and pharmacy courses, forms the basis for admissions to all health sciences and allied courses like MBBS, BDS, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, etc.

Sharma said, "We are now writing to all the state governments to formulate independent entrance test scheme for courses in Indian medicine with a view to introduce the test from academic year 2010-11."

The CCIM has consistently hit the headlines in the last two years for adopting a carrot-and-stick policy towards making the colleges overcome a slew of deficiencies regarding basic infrastructure and academic standards. "We have been constantly emphasising on a no-comprise policy for quality education and have gone to the extent of shutting down 107 colleges last year (2008-09) across the country. Measures like this spurred an improvement as we now have only 78 colleges shut down this year (2009-10) and 35 of these are border-line cases," he said.

Sharma said, "Starting this year, we have decided to follow a time-bound schedule for assessment of colleges on different parameters concerning infrastructure and academic standards. The assessments will begin from December-January and will be completed by April with our recommendation to the government for admissions at the assessed colleges. This will lead to timely commencement of admissions in July."

He said, "The CCIM will implement the gradation scheme that envisages A' grade for colleges meeting more than 90 per cent of the overall performance parameters and B' and C' grades for colleges meeting upto 90 per cent and upto 80 per cent parameters, respectively."

Those colleges graded in C' category will be given three years time to upgrade themselves to B' category while those graded B' will be given two years time to upgrade to A' category, he said. "The fee structure at these colleges will also be linked with the grade they score," he added.

Sharma said, "The gradation scheme will come into force over the next six months considering the time that needs to be given to the state governments and the colleges to understand and appreciate the scheme in a proper perspective."

The Indian medicine education faces a high level of about 30 to 35 pc shortage of qualified teachers. Asked how the CCIM proposes to tackle this problem, Sharma said, "The thrust has been on sanctioning greater number of post-graduate (PG) colleges in Indian medicine. We sanctioned 20 PG colleges this year. At the same time, the retirement age for teachers, which varies from 55 to 60 years in different states, has set at a uniform age of 65. These measures will help bring down the teachers shortage by 15 per cent."

From 2010-11, the CCIM will also introduce 14 new diploma courses on specialisation in Ayuurveda like panchakarma, child care, diet, etc, he said. The council has further recommended to the government to incude private unaided colleges in the centrally-sponsored scheme for upgradation of colleges. "Till recently, the scheme was applicable to only government-run colleges and now the grant-in-aid colleges. We have proposed its extension to the private colleges too."

Link: Original Article

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