Common good

The supreme court’s green signal to the Medical Council of India (MCI) to hold a single national entrance test for admission to MBBS and post-graduate medical courses is a good move and is in the best interests of students and medical education. The MCI had made the proposal to the union health ministry long ago, but it was caught in litigation. With the court now clarifying that the pending petitions should not prevent the MCI from going ahead with the proposal, the way has been cleared for holding the test from the next academic year. MCI’s proposal had itself been based on a suggestion made by the court which had to deal with a large number of cases related to medical admission. When the proposal is implemented, admission to medical courses in all colleges, both government-owned and private, will be governed by the results of the common test.

There are about 300 medical colleges in the country. The Central and state governments, deemed universities and private managements hold separate tests for admission. Since admissions are coveted, students take a number of tests and have to waste much time, energy and money to appear for tests at different locations across the country. There are students who write more than 10 tests in a short period. Some examination dates overlap. Students come under much mental stress also, appearing for many examinations. While they will be spared of such problems, a single examination will also ensure uniform standards. It will also help eliminate corruption and malpractices which are rampant during admissions. Though donations and capitation fees are banned, it is well-known that private college managements accept them from candidates. An admission based on merit will also improve the standards of education. Students too will be able to choose from a number of colleges on the basis of the rank list and according to their convenience.

The MCI’s proposal envisages holding the common examination to be conducted by a single authority and under a common syllabus, as in the case of IIT admissions. Issues like state and rural quotas and applicability of the new system to autonomous and minority institutions will have to be sorted out before it is implemented. MCI should finalise the necessary rules and regulations and notify them at the earliest so there is no confusion and vested interests do not get a chance to scuttle the plan.

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