The Supreme Court has made the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) mandatory for anyone seeking admission in private medical colleges or deemed universities.
Each year, hundreds of foreign students come to India to pursue the MBBS or BDS course in a number of medical institutes. They come through an institutional foreign quota system, like in government colleges, or by directly applying to private colleges.
Since the eligibility criterion of the NEET exam specifically says that the exam is open only to the Indian nationals or the Overseas citizens of India, hundreds of foreign students who had enrolled this year for undergraduate programmes in private medical colleges in India will be affected by the new legislation.
Foreign students are not allowed to sit for the NEET exam, even if they want to. The fate of these aspiring foreign students has become uncertain as they do not fall under this newly formed criterion. Medical institutes have directed the foreign students to vacate their campus in a week’s time.
One of those affected is Shenali who came from Colombo to pursue BDS course at the Manipal University. Her father, Tilak Silva said, “My daughter and other foreign students are suffering now only because there is this tricky NEET procedure. First foreigners cannot write NEET exam and now these students are being compared with domestic ones. Where should we go now as we have been asked to leave the campus by October 14. The career of our children has been jeopardized.”
Silva further added that, “How can the decision be so blanket. I have already intimated the Sri Lankan High Commission in Delhi and the Foreign Office in Colombo about this situation. We also appeal to the authorities and the Indian Prime Minister to allow some stop-gap arrangements for this 2016-17 batch so that their year is not wasted,”
DCI’s president, Dr. Dibyendu Mazumdar was quoted as saying, “It is the verdict of the Supreme Court, what can we do about it. Colleges have to abide by it.”
However, given India’s international policy on education, government sources said that they are looking into the matter.
Heads of top central medical institutions in Delhi said, foreign students in their colleges are admitted through embassy nominations and as such “their candidature should not be affected”.
“We have foreign students from Maldives and Nepal. But these are nominated candidates and not coming through competitive examinations, so their situation is different,” Medical Superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital Dr A K Rai said.
Authorities at Lady Hardinge Medical College, which has about 15 foreign students, said, “These students are nominated and don’t come through competitive procedure unlike NEET.”