In what comes as the rejoicing news for the aspiring students is that the Health Ministry has increased the number of postgraduate (PG) medical seats in India by 4,000 for admissions to various medical colleges and hospitals through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination (NEET) PG for the academic year 2017-18. The announcement of addition of over 4,000 PG medical seats was made by the Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda announced on Thursday, March 2. Calling it a “huge boost to medical education in the country”, there had been a total addition of 4,193 PG seats in the country out of which 2,046 seats were in medical colleges. “With this, the total number of PG medical seats rises to 35,117.
The increase in postgraduate medical seats has been in the pipeline ever since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declared it as a priority issue for the Government in his Union Budget speech on February 1. The increase in seats includes dental courses, which are equivalent to an MD or MS degree. According to the Ministry, the numbers of dental seats have increased by 2,147 in the last one year.
Considering the need for more PG seats in clinical subjects, the government had decided to amend the teacher-student ratio in clinical subjects in government medical colleges. In fact, as per a gazette notification released by the Medical Council of India (MCI) on January 31, the day before the budget, the MCI had amended the “Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000” and revised the teacher-student ratio to increase PG seats in clinical subjects. As per the new amendment, the professor-to-student ratio for PG courses had been raised from 1:2 to 1:3 and in the case of assistant professors, the teacher-student ratio had been raised from 1:1 to 1:2. This has been done to yield about 5000 additional PG seats in clinical subjects in the coming years.
Mr Nadda also alluded to the MCI amendment in his March 2 announcement, stating that it had resulted in the creation of 1137 medical seats in 71 colleges. It was likely that 1000 more seats would be added in March 2017 once proposals were received from all of the Government’s 212 colleges. This would include DNB seats, equivalent to MD/MS, which had risen to 2147 in the past year. Taking all of this into consideration, it is very much clear that there had been a total addition of 4,193 PG seats in the country so far. The Budget announcement of adding 5,000 PG medical seats was likely to be achieved soon. NEET PG, introduced in 2016, will serve as the single window entrance examination for admissions to all of these seats.