The Supreme Court’s decision to quash the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance test (NEET) examinations for both undergraduate and postgraduate medical admissions came after over 115 petitions challenged its viability and discrepancies in various courts across the country.
A day later, academicians looked at the order with caution. The decision, experts said, has paved the way for reforms in medical education. “Scrapping the NEET for undergraduate admissions makes for a good decision, since boards across the country need to be standardised before such a centralised examination is taken up,” said Dr Geeta Niyogi, Dean, KJ Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre, Mumbai.
But Dr Niyogi felt the NEET examination for postgraduate admissions should have been retained, as it would have ensured equal opportunity.
“Incidentally, NEET was never meant to be an entrance test but only an eligibility examination,” said Bangalore-based cardiologist Dr Devi Shetty, who was a member of the MCI when the NEET was conceptualised.
“Every state needs to be the custodian of its health care, and the NEET examination contradicted this. If a student from Delhi goes to Arunachal Pradesh to study medicine via the ‘one nation one test’ method, he will go back home after he graduates instead of serving the state where he studied.” said Shetty.
Students are angry at the constant changes in examination decisions.
“Till last year, we were not sure if the state government will accept NEET. Then we started preparing for it, keeping in mind its curriculum. With the new decision, we are not sure what exam to study for,” said Chinmay Thorat, a medical aspirant.
“The scrapping of the NEET examination will lead to the earlier problems of dates of various entrance exams clashing,” said Manjiri Hate, mother of a medical aspirant from Bhopal.
Parents are a worried lot, too.
Prajakta Paranjpe, parent of a medical seat aspirant, said, “NEET ensured that even if you have a lot of money, you will still be rated on merit. Now we are back to the same rut.”
When the NEET examinations were announced, it was welcomed by many, as it promised a more transparent system.
“Reforms in principle are good, but will this reform ensure end of corruption? What about the exorbitant capitation fee charged by private colleges? An examination being quashed doesn’t change that,” said Ashish Kapre, a lawyer representing some petitioners against the NEET.