July 04, 2010

2011 may see a common entrance test for all medical colleges

A common entrance exam for all medical colleges -- public or private -- for both undergraduate and post graduate courses could soon be in place, possibly as early as the next academic session.

The six-member panel set up by the health ministry to run the Medical Council of India (MCI) has suggested institution of a common entrance exam, modalities of which will be finalised in the next two weeks.

Speaking to TOI, member of the panel Dr Devi Shetty said, "At present, a student wanting to study medicine has to appear for 10-15 examinations, which can be highly stressful to both the student and his family. A common entrance exam will allow a student to give his best shot at one go."

Dr Shetty, however, made it clear that students will apply separately to every college in accordance with their preferences, be it AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh or a private medical college, after taking the exam. A student will need to score in order to get admissions to the colleges of choice.

The panel's proposal will not change the overall availability of seats in the country but even quotas will be filled in accordance to test results. "Quotas will continue. But for example if the management of a private college holds 25% of the seats, we are saying that they should be given according to merit and the marks the students get in this common test rather than arbitrary distribution," Dr Shetty said.

Having received complete backing from the health ministry, as claimed by Dr Shetty, the panel has held consultations with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for the proposed common entrance test.

Dr Shetty said, "In all government medical colleges, the test for 15% of the seats at the undergraduate level at present is conducted by CBSE. We want this to be extended to all seats. CBSE is highly favourable to this plan and so is the Union health ministry which gave the clearance months ago."

He added, "The proposal has also been keenly welcomed by most private medical colleges who have have expressed their willingness to get on board with us. However, we are presently consulting legal authorities to look at how to execute the programme, considering that private medical colleges at present have the right to conduct their own exams. We are in the process of consensus building."

President of the panel Dr S K Sarin said, "A common entrance will reduce hassles for students appearing for multiple medical exams. The health ministry is supportive of the idea."

Union health secretary K Sujatha Rao told TOI, "Nothing has been finalised as yet and we have not got a formal proposal. The idea of a common entrance exam is a good thought and there has been a huge demand for it. But we are yet to figure out how to roll it out as it will be a major policy deviation."

Reacting to the proposal, chairman of the National Board of Examinations Dr K S Reddy told TOI from Geneva, "In principle, a common entrance exam is fine for students but the requirements of providing opportunities for in service candidates or doctors working in rural areas to obtain access to post-graduate training must also be protected."

Link: Original Article

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