Since 2017, Tamil Nadu has been trying to exempt itself from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exam. On 13 September 2021, the Tamil Nadu Under Graduate Medical College Degree Courses Bill-2021 was passed in the Legislative Assembly.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin cited findings of the Justice AK Rajan panel, constituted by the state government to support the Bill which is now an Act. The panel was the first ever to analyse the impact of social status, economic backwardness, and reservation on the performance of students in a national examination.
While the report suggests an exponential dip in the number of students from state board taking admission in medical colleges, there are major concerns raised by students from other boards. If the new Act receives the President’s assent, then what about those students who want to appear for NEET and get into colleges outside Tamil Nadu?
The Quint spoke to legal experts and educationists to understand.
Exponential Rise in CBSE Students Clearing NEET
A study of medical admissions four years before and after NEET shows nearly a 10-time dip in state board students securing medical admission. The nine-member panel found that the proportion of rural students fell from an average of 61.45 percent, pre-NEET to 50.81 percent, post-NEET.
Meanwhile, there has been an exponential rise in CBSE students clearing the exam and securing medical seats. Before NEET was implemented, 98.23 percent of students getting into medical colleges were from state board schools, and less than 1 percent were from CBSE affiliated schools. Now, CBSE students account for 38.84 percent of admissions to medical colleges, while those from state board schools make up 59.41percent.
Besides, according to the committee’s report, the share of English-medium school students in medical colleges has increased from 85.12 percent to 98.01 percent since NEET. The proportion of students with an annual family income of more than Rs 2.5 lakh has increased from 52.11 percent to 58.95 percent in this period.
Several students, studying the CBSE curriculum, believe changing the mode of testing was unfair as NEET was an all-India exam, that is uniform to all students.
Rajeshwari, a student of Class 11 who aims to become a doctor, said she is quite confused with the Act that has been passed.
“I moved to CBSE board so that I will be better prepared for competitive exams. I studied very hard and have been looking forward to excelling the NEET exam. Since we are studying in CBSE, we may not be able to score a high cut-off like the state board students. So now what happens to us?” she asked.
The Quint spoke to advocates in the state to understand if this move will affect the chances of the other CBSE-school NEET aspirants.
Students Can Write NEET, Enroll in Colleges Outside TN
As per the Act, all medical admissions in the state will be based on marks obtained by students in the Class 12 board exam.
Students who want to apply for seats in medical colleges outside Tamil Nadu can write NEET, legal experts clarified.
It is to be noted that entrance exams for All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMR), Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) will continue to be held.
In TN, Govt Quota Seats Will be Filled Through Counselling
Every government medical college in Tamil Nadu has 85 percent of its seats reserved for the government counselling session and the rest 15 percent lies with the management. Similarly, private medical colleges have a designated quota of seats allotted for government counselling and the rest falls under the management and Non-Resident of India (NRI) quota.
“If the Act is implemented, students will be judged by their board exam marks and a counselling session like the one held for Anna University annually, will be held. Students will be allotted seats according to their cut-off marks scored in the board exam. Those students who aspire to get into colleges outside Tamil Nadu can definitely write NEET,” explained advocate Manu Sundaram.
It is to be noted that only residents of Tamil Nadu are eligible to apply for the seats reserved for government quota in the state.
“This makes so much sense. This system ensures that it is not unfair for students from state board, but at the same time doesn’t stop other students from applying for other colleges,” said Saadhya, a 15-year-old NEET aspirant.
Change Assessment for State Board Syllabus, Educationists Urge
A section of experts argued that the problem lies in assessment and not the syllabus of State schools. In state schools, students are mostly tested for memory recall.
They said the more fair approach would be to improve the assessment model in state schools so that they will be at par with students from other boards students to write competitive exams.
Advocate Saravanan said, “The students who aspire to get into colleges across the country is a small fraction. This is a social, political and legal issue and it has to be dealt in that way.”