Getting admission into a medical college has never been easy. Under the current NEET system, over 500 students with marks either in single digit or zero and negative in physics and chemistry were able to get admission into MBBS colleges in 2017. According to a report, total 400 students with single-digit marks in physics and chemistry and 110 students with zero or negative marks had secured MBBS seats, mostly in private medical colleges, in 2017. For example, a candidate scored -2 in physics, -4 in chemistry and 139 in biology, secured a rank above 5.3 lakh, but still got admission into a medical college. Over 6.1 lakh students had qualified for CBSE NEET last year.
A major reason for students getting admission in medical colleges, despite their poor marks, is the revised NEET notification issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) that does not make it mandatory for candidates to score minimum 50 per cent marks (or 40 per cent in case of reserved category) in individual subjects. As per the initial NEET notification issued in December 2010, marks were evaluated in percent and students needed to score at least 50 percent in each subject to secure an admission into medical college. But later, the notification was dropped to include the percentile system, and the eligibility criterion was changed from 50 and 40 percent to 50 and 40 percentile. The MCI had also dropped the minimum marks criteria in individual subjects to include the overall percentile system.
Among the number of students analysed in the report, a total of 1,990 candidates, who got admission in medical colleges based on their NEET score, scored just 150 out of 720 marks (20.8 per cent) in 2017, while there were 530 students who either scored zero or negative or single digit marks in individual subjects, and still got admission into medical college. Interestingly, 507 out of these 530 students got admission into private medical colleges.
Though the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, a common entrance exam for admission to medical colleges, was initiated to make admission process in medical colleges, especially private colleges, more transparent, the new percentile system seems to have failed to address one of the main issues. The marking system reflects that rich people, even with poor marks or negligible marks, can get admission into private medical colleges while those with excellent score can’t, even if they want to as on an average, a private medical college charges over 20 lakh per annum as tuition fee. Meanwhile, experts suggest the Medical Council of India could make changes in the current NEET rules if percentile cut off and minimum eligibility criteria continued to drop.