Their MBBS course has been de-recognised. Their college chairman was arrested and booked under the Goondas Act. For second-year students of DD Medical College and Hospital, Tiruvallur, the future is scary and uncertain.

A few days ago, students of the college protested, but authorities say not much can be done, as the Medical Council of India (MCI) had clearly stated in its website that it had not granted permission to the college to function for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years.

(See infographic at left)

Getting a seat at a college that does not have MCI’s permission to operate is illegal, and students’ qualifications are not given the recognition necessary to practice medicine.

Unfortunately, incidents such as these are not uncommon in the State.

With medical and engineering admissions for 2013-2014 round the corner, experts say students should go the extra mile and check the approval/recognition status of colleges they apply to.

Double-check everything

On its part, the MCI has advised students, parents and the public to check the status of all medical colleges before starting the application process. An updated list of all medical colleges with the status of approval and number of seats permitted, is available on its website – www.mciindia.org.

According to health department officials, the State has 19 government medical colleges and 24 private colleges, including deemed universities.

“First, students should check MCI’s website for a list of recognised private colleges, and also check if a college has been permitted to admit students for the forthcoming academic year. MCI puts up notices on colleges denied approval, and students should look out for this. A notice had been issued against DD Medical College Hospital, but it continued to function” an official explained.

Academic experts said students should be very careful about claims made on the websites of colleges and should be wary of advertisements.

An expert said that students should also check for affiliations – medical colleges in the State need to be affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University.

“With private medical colleges, there are specific regulations for the surrender of a certain number of seats to the government, and a limitation on the total number of seats they can have. Students should always check to ensure the college is not taking in more than its permitted intake,” he added.

Also, students should be wary of new private colleges that are anticipating being approved of by the MCI. “New private colleges always claim that MCI will approve of them in the coming year. Students should be careful with such colleges. An MCI approval is essential to get all other approvals,” he said.

For engineering students in the State, the scenario is not much better.

With over 530 engineering institutions in the State, one would think aspirants here are spoilt for choice. But that is not the case.

According to former Anna University vice-chancellor, E. Balaguruswamy, only 40 of these colleges have good infrastructure, faculty and placement prospects.

Is your college blacklisted?

Last year, as many as 300 institutes were blacklisted by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and earlier this year, over 100 institutions in Tamil Nadu alone received warnings from Anna University, for not fulfilling norms. However, the university did not reveal the names of the colleges.

“As soon as an engineering institution is barred by AICTE, the college management files a court case, and so it is not possible to give out their names till the hearing is over. So it is difficult to find out which the defaulting colleges are,” said R. Velmurugun, a senior physics professor at Anna University. He also advises students not to get confused with the names of colleges and be completely sure of their choices when they go for counselling.

“Students often click on the wrong name at the counselling sessions, due to anxiety. And most often, they choose a particular college because it comes under a banner that runs many successful colleges. That might not always be a good thing, because many college managements choose to focus only on their best colleges,” he added.

AICTE officials say the council has been issuing public notices from time to time cautioning students against obtaining admissions at unapproved technical institutions. They also update the list of approved institutions on the council’s website regularly. But at present, there is no mechanism to safeguard students from joining such unapproved institutions, said an official.

Very often, students are told the college will receive its approval soon, but this never happens. “Sometimes, a college loses its approval when students are in the middle of their course. Some unapproved institutions deceive parents saying they have accreditations from companies or other agencies,” said the official.

“Companies also shy away from hiring students from unapproved institutions. Even if the council approves of the institution later, students admitted before the approval has been granted, lose out. So it is vital for students to research a place before enrolling,” said Ramapriya Ganesan, a professor with a private college.

Talk to old students

Rhymend Uthriaraj, secretary, engineering admissions, says students should visit some of the college campuses they apply to.

“Talking to students studying there is the best way to find out about the college. The most important thing is to ask them if there are enough teachers, and if students are allowed to conduct their own experiments,” he said.