Medical PG admissions: Making hay while confusion reigns

Medical PG admissions: Making hay while confusion reigns

Their parents would also be going through anxious moments. The question is: why has the admission to PG medical courses become so complicated?

Over two decades ago, there were only government medical colleges. Later on, a large number of private medical colleges also got on board to provide undergraduate and post-graduate medical education. The actions of successive governments have tended to help private medical colleges, or many a time, the private colleges have ingeniously worked around half-hearted measures of the government to exercise control over admissions.

In the early days, the Directorate of Medical Education (DME) was conducting the entrance test for PG medical seats. It was not very complicated then because there were fewer seats. A percentage of those seats was always reserved for candidates who were serving the state government and the rest were being allotted through the entrance test.

 Even then, there were complaints about the examination conducted by the DME as there were allegations of questions being selectively leaked. The government decided to ask the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences to conduct this entrance test. For a few  years, there were no complaints. But recently, the RGUHS examinations have also come under the scanner with even CBI, Lokayukta and other agencies being asked to look into the way the examinations have been conducted.

Importance of seat matrix

If conducting these examinations is no mean task, the arriving of the so-called seat matrix is even trickier. (Before going into detail, I must state that the MCI regulation that all seats have to be filled through common entrance tests created an unfavourable situation for the in-service candidates.

If a candidate has worked for, say, five years after graduation in a district or taluk hospital, it will be very difficult for him/her to compete with fresh graduates who would be better prepared for these exams.) The seat matrix states the number of seats available in each institution in each speciality, and how many of these are in the government quota, how many belong to the management, and within the government quota, the distribution of seats according to the reservation system prevailing at the time of seat allotment.

The government has been trying to get more seats for merit students, but the private colleges have found ways of circumventing it. The private colleges have come up with  more and more entrance examinations, a separate one by colleges run by religious minorities and so on.

This has only increased the pressure on medical graduates, without ensuring them any fairness in the final allotment even after they score well in these examinations. The situation has got worse with the recognition of ‘deemed universities.’ I am told they have become a law unto themselves, even though the UGC norms make it  clear that 80 per cent of the seats in these universities should be filled by all India entrance exams and only 20 per cent should go to the managements. There have been instances where these UGC rules have been completely disregarded.

Now, with hundreds of post graduate seats in pre-clinical, para-clinical and clinical subjects being available, preparation of the seat matrix has become very important. Besides reserving seats for in-service candidates, the others have to be divided between the government and the managements.

The colleges usually keep the lucrative clinical seats for themselves, while offering less attractive seats to the government candidates. The procedure is not transparent enough, giving rise to heartburns, protests and court cases, all of which delay the admission process creating unnecessary tension to the students and parents.

Controversies arise about the seat matrix in the case of clinical subjects where some of the seats are in very great demand. For instance, an MD in radiodiagnosis seat is worth more than Rs1.5 crore to a private medical college. So also are seats in orthopedics, OBG, paediatrics etc.

It is in these specialities that are much in demand and ‘high priced’ that lack of transparency has led to a lot of injustices and court cases. There was some sanity in the distribution of seats as long as the Unnikrishnan case judgment was in operation and a majority of seats were distributed according to merit. (This was in undergraduate category.) But in early 2000, the Supreme Court completely reversed the trend, by declaring that the private college managements were free to admit anybody and free to fix their own fee. 

Naturally, there was an uproar, and the state governments had to be seen to be doing something. The result is that every year there are hard negotiations between the government and the private managements over distribution of seats and the fee to be charged. A series of fee fixation committees have been established but no fixed fee is in sight. Even this year, all these problems are very much alive and no solutions are in sight.

May be there is no will to solve the problem.

(The writer is a former registrar of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences)

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