For students who were waiting for their turn at the second phase of counselling for undergraduate medical education on Monday, it was all about getting into the college of their choice.

Unlike the tense atmosphere that prevailed during the first phase, the students at Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) — the venue for counselling — were relaxed and excited, as all of them had already been admitted to medical colleges and had come only to transfer into a more desirable institution.

Medical colleges in the State opened on August 1, and the students have already been introduced to some subjects such as anatomy and physiology, they said.

“There are 356 seats in government colleges and many of us will probably move upwards to better colleges. This will open up seats in lower-placed colleges,” said one student who had been admitted to Chengalpattu Medical College. “I want to move to Chennai to remain close to home,” she said.

Her friend, who has been admitted to KMC said, “I was called for counselling today but though I was offered Stanley I chose to remain at KMC.” She said her aunt’s home was closer to KMC and so her family told her to stay put.

Which institutions were considered the best was evident – soon after counselling began, all students from Stanley Medical College moved to Madras Medical College. And those who had been admitted to KMC opted for Stanley.

By the end of the day, only 8 of the 356 available seats had been filled. Another 857 seats had been re-allotted as students moved to other colleges. For Tuesday’s session, there are 348 vacancies in government colleges and 711 seats available in self-financed colleges

M. Sai Niveditha, who wanted to move from Tuticorin Medical College, was disappointed, as all seats in Madurai Medical College had been taken. She finally opted for Tirunelveli Medical College as her father works there.

For some students, getting the college of their choice is just one hurdle cleared. A. Suresh Kumar, son of a garment seller from Kumarapalayam in Erode, who shifted from KMC to Stanley, was worried about finding a place to stay.

“I have to pay Rs. 22,000 for accommodation and other expenses and have to attend college in KMC to be able to transfer to Stanley. I cannot go back home and I don’t have relatives to stay with here,” he said.

Until late in the evening, he and his father had not found someone who would put him up until he joined Stanley.

Counselling for seats surrendered to the government by self-financed dental and medical institutions will go on until August 16.