315% increase compared to last year; other cities do well too
The introduction of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test this year, and basing admissions solely on marks scored in the test has resulted in a marked change in the pattern of admission to medical colleges. A district-wise analysis shows that, due to NEET, students from certain pockets in the State, including metros, have reaped greater benefits.
The data accessed by The Hindu reveal that more candidates from Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts have been admitted to medical colleges under the State government quota than in the past when aggregate Class 12 marks were used as admission criteria.
Read with 2016, when four districts, Erode, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Namakkal, accounted for 1,750 seats, it presents a picture of contrast. This year, only 364 seats went to candidates from these districts.
Interestingly, last year, from Ariyalur (incidentally the district where S. Anitha who committed suicide) only four candidates could get into medical colleges. This year, as many as 21 candidates have got in. Similarly, the Nilgiris has seen a windfall with 24 candidates qualifying this year as against two last year.
Some observers point out that the change in admission pattern has only established what the State government has been repeatedly telling courts. Even in the case of CBSE students, only some centres would have done well as the rest would not have had access to coaching facilities, they say.
“NEET has blown the myth that students from SC, ST will lose out. Also, BC candidates have managed to garner over 40% seats. Yet, it does not offer the best solution. It is not a level playing field,” said a senior bureaucrat who has keenly watched the developments.
‘Based on coaching’
Opponents of NEET like G. R. Ravindranath, general secretary of Doctors’ Association for Social Equality, say the admission data only prove their theory that students who do not have access to coaching centres for NEET, particularly in rural areas, have lost out.
“The increase in the number of students is on account of repeaters, those who took NEET several times. In urban areas where there are more centres for training, the students have done well. What we require is the data on the number of students who took NEET for the first time and completed plus 2 this year,” he says.
“This also shows that there is a need to prepare students for competitive exams, for which the syllabus must be improved,” he adds.
Former director of medical education J. Mohanasundaram also concurs with this view but adds that students may not have taken NEET seriously as there was no clarity. They may have lost in the admission process due to confusion, he said.