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Saving students and parents
This year the deemed universities are demanding up to Rs 60 lakh as tuition fees for popular courses. There is an immediate need for the Tamil Nadu government to establish a Fee Structure Authority to prescribe the fee structure and to monitor malpractices in fee collection.

No other academic issue has raised as much controversy in Tamil Nadu as the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for admission to medical courses. Until last year admission to medical and dental courses were based on the “cut-off” marks in the final higher secondary examination. 

The Supreme Court of India in 2016 mandated the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), to be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Delhi, for admission. Over 11 lakh MBBS and BDS aspirants, including nearly 85,000 students from Tamil Nadu, appeared for the NEET at over 1900 centres across the country. NEET was conducted in 10 languages – English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada and Odiya.

The responsibility of the CBSE is limited to the conduct of the entrance examination, declaration of result and providing All India Rank to the Counseling Authorities and Admitting Institutions. NEET is applicable for admissions to (a) All India quota seats, (b) State government quota seats where the state government concerned so opts and (c) Private/Management/NRI quota seats in all private medical and dental colleges or any private or deemed university. Only the three Centrally administered medical institutions, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, and Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, are exempt from NEET. They will have their own entrance test.


TN bills unlikely to get Presidential assent

Opposing the mandated NEET, the Tamil Nadu legislature passed two bills seeking to retain its present admission system based on marks obtained by students in their higher secondary school examination. The bills have not received the President’s assent and is unlikely. The Tamil Nadu government has been claiming that the Presidential assent will come, though the Union Minister for Education has categorically ruled out any such possibility. This has unnecessarily confused the students and parents.

The state government argues that NEET would be traumatic for children, as it would be based on a syllabus different from the one taught in schools. The fear is that NEET would be insurmountable for students from rural areas. They contend that urban students, especially those from streams such as the CBSE, would dominate admissions under NEET. The fallacy of this argument is illustrated by available data.

According to statistics, during the eight-year period from 2009-10 to 2016-17, of the total of 29,225 admissions, only 210 students from government schools have been admitted to medical colleges. During the same period only 65 students from government schools have been placed in private medical colleges against 6132 admissions. Even students with very high cut-off marks in the State Board may not do well in the NEET due to lack of knowledge on fundamentals.

One of the major benefits of NEET is to save the aspirants for medical education from the exorbitant capitation fees charged by private players ranging from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 80 lakh per seat for MBBS and Rs 30 to 40 lakh for BDS and a few crores for PG. 

In Tamil Nadu there are 21 government medical colleges with an intake capacity of 2750 of which 412 (15 per cent) was for All India Quota and 2318 (85 per cent) for the state quota. There are 23 private medical colleges with 3750 seats. There is one government dental college with 100 seats of which 15 is for all India quota. Private dental colleges account for 1310 seats with no all India quota. On a rough estimate, in Tamil Nadu alone about Rs 3000 crore is funneled into the pockets of medical institutions in the form of cash and black money. At the all India level there are approximately 63,835 medical seats, which are available for aspirants who clear the NEET exam in 2017.

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