A whole new year for NEET

As the State and central governments lock horns over the continuation of NEET, a look at the admission process to medical and dental colleges this year and the implementation of the 7.5 % reservation for Government school students, shows that both students and administrators seem to have learnt from the exercise over the past few years.

Published - February 06, 2022 08:56 am IST

Representational image.

Representational image.

When candidates admitted to medical and dental colleges look back on their journey several decades hence they would recall the academic year 2021-2022 as an milestone year.

It appeared as if candidates would face another year of uncertainty about the conduct of the qualifying exam the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). The exam was delayed thanks to COVID-19 pandemic by several months.

But there was much anticipation as the government was making all out efforts to increase intake by 1,500 seats. The newly elected State government carried forward the 7.5% preferential reservation for government school students. The continuance of the scheme encouraged more candidates from government schools to take the exam.

As weeks progressed the excitement was palpable. Aspirants waited with bated breath for the much awaited announcement that the State would add 11 new medical colleges. This meant a whopping 1,500 more seats, though 15% of them would be surrendered to the central pool.

Another aspect was that the Director General of Health Services decided to conduct even the mop up round following allegations that money power diluted merit when vacant seats were returned to deemed universities.

For the last several years the deemed universities were returned the unfilled seats. However, it was found that the candidates who got admitted had minimum marks while those with better marks were left out.

Online counselling

Some sections of professors in deemed universities believe that this could impact their admission. “Especially candidates whose marks are not high enough to get them a seat in either government or self-financing medical colleges. They may apply for counselling in deemed universities as well. With the State government and the DGHS conducting counselling parallelly it could affect the chances of students with lower scores who would like to enter deemed universities as there is an assurance of a seat,” said the dean of a medical college run by a deemed university in Kancheepuram.

The vice principal of another deemed university said such a situation may affect only such candidates who had the financial ability to enter deemed institutions.

That unlike the previous years no candidate from the State featured in the top 20 of the All India merit list did not seem to matter much as the State had a decent haul of toppers – four candidates with 710 marks led the State merit list, an indication that the competition would be stiff.

While independent consultants and are predicting a lower cut off owing to additional seats for candidates with lower scores the dilemma is about entering the new colleges.

Medical education officials, however, say even a new medical college is a good bet when seats are scarce. “All medical colleges will have sufficient teaching staff for students to learn from,” said a professor.

The DME released a video providing details of how the online counselling would be conducted. And finally on Feb 2 for the first time the State started online counselling for MBBS and BDS admission. The first 10,000 candidates who have been called for counselling would have locked their choices by Sunday midnight.

 

Self-study succeeds

Aspirants and their mentors have learned from the experience of their peers. The 2021-2022 academic year saw quite a few students confident enough to prepare on their own. Several aspirants from the Tamil medium took to self-study. A number of them have also managed to qualify and be admitted to a medical college of their choice.

R. Isakkiammal, the daughter of G. Ramaiah, an agricultural casual labourer scored 310 marks. She studied on her own and the school cleared her doubts through video lectures, said the candidate, who was admitted to Tirunelveli Medical College. She is also the first to enter any college in her family. N. Natchathirapriya, 21, had taken the NEET for the third time in 2020. She had scored 1,137 in Class 12 in 2017 and attempted NEET that year, when the exam was made mandatory to study medicine. She joined B Sc Mathematics and appeared for NEET the next year. Unsuccessful she decided to complete her undergraduation and took the exam in 2020. The daughter of a goldsmith she has been admitted to Tirunelveli Medical College.

Mentoring aspirants

Sajitha R, who scored 314 marks in NEET, credited her success to the support she received from a couple of Kilpauk Medical College students. The daughter of a tailor, the candidate had appeared for NEET earlier but had scored low marks. This year though she managed to garner a seat in Villupuram Medical College.

Seven students, including her, are from the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ashok Nagar, have been admitted to medical colleges. The school Principal said four of them had appeared for NEET this year for the first time.

Prasad R. Manne, secretary of the Kilpauk Medical College Alumni Association which mentored the students, said the aim was to enable government school students study medicine.. Though the alumni had been coaching students since 2018 this year has been special as five students had succeeded.

Students who had cleared NEET credited their teachers for their achievement. Shalini Jayashree, who scored 338 marks and was admitted to ESIC Medical College in Coimbatore, fell at the feet of her teacher at the counselling hall and took her blessing.

Kokilavani, a person with disability, will be the first graduate in her family when she completes MBBS. Her mother Muthucharam, who rolls beedis for a living in a village in Tenkasi, said but for the school and her teachers Kokilavani would not have achieved the feat. Kokilavani has been admitted to Kilpauk Medical College.

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