A national daily has reported that the University Grants Commission (UGC), in a meeting held in New Delhi on January 24, has decided to allow medical aspirants only three attempts at cracking the National Entrance Cum Eligibility Test (NEET) besides suggesting that the age limit for candidates at 25 years be retained, as in the previous years.
However, a major question that the report by The Times of India (ToI) raises, is why has the UGC convened a meeting to discuss the modalities of NEET eligibility and why is it coming up with such a regulation? Regulatory decisions regarding medical higher education in India lies within the purview of the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India.
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What is more intriguing here is that only a few days back, on January 18, 2017, the union Health Ministry, while approving a CBSE recommendation for ‘no upper age limit’ in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for MBBS/BDS admissions in academic year 2017, had left the final decision to be taken by the MCl/DCI.
The ministry also approved the CBSE recommendation for unlimited attempts to take the test for both 15% all-India quota as well as 85% State quota in all government, private, central and deemed medical colleges and universities across the country. Here also, the final decision has to be taken by MCI/DCI.
The UGC’s apparent decision, as reported by ToI, hence, directly contradicts the Health Ministry stand. Such a statement, if it is true, will only create confusion among students.
Incidentally, the MCI, mandated to take regulatory decisions regarding medical education in India, has not released any official statement on this matter so far.
What makes matters worse for aspirants is the fact that the official NEET 2017 brochure has still not been published. Previously, the notification used to be out by December, but this year the application process has already been delayed by over 40 days, considering that in 2016 the application form was released on December 15. When contacted by Careers360 to understand the reason behind the delay, CBSE officials did not offer any specific reason, maintaining that the ‘NEET notification will be released soon.’
Background: Age eligibility criteria as per official FAQs of NEET 2016
The minimum age for appearing for the test in 2016 was 17, while the maximum stood at 25 for 15 % all India Quota seats through NEET. For reserved category students, however, the age limit was relaxed by five additional years. An FAQ in last year’s NEET brochure, states two points:
“(i) A candidate who have completed the age of 17 years at the time of admission or will complete the age on or before 31st December of the year of his/her admission to the 1st year MBBS/BDS Course and is an INDIAN NATIONAL.
(ii) The upper age limit for candidates seeking admission under 15% All India Quota Seats is 25 years as on 31st December of the year of the entrance examination. Further provided that this upper age limit shall be relaxed by a period of 5 (five) years for the candidates of Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes.”
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