Hundreds of foreign students who had enrolled this year for undergraduate programmes in private medical colleges in India now face an uncertain future due to a “tricky” domestic legislation regarding entrance examination for them. Foreign students in India come to pursue MBBS or BDS courses either through an institutional quota system, like in government colleges, or by directly applying to private colleges.
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But, due to the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on making the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) mandatory for admission to private and deemed institutes, they are now facing uncertainty as they do not fall under the NEET criteria.
The NEET eligibility criteria says only Indian nationals or Overseas Citizens of India can take the exam. It does not have any mention of foreign nationals.
The colleges have allegedly asked foreign students to leave the campuses by “next week”.
Tilak Silva, father of Shenali, who came from Colombo to pursue BDS at Manipal University, 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 jeopardised.”
Silva also alleged that after the apex court’s ruling, the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Dental Council of India (DCI) have been “pressurising” colleges to “allow (admission to) only those students who have taken NEET”.
“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,” he said.
When contacted DCI President Dr Dibyendu Mazumdar said, “It is the verdict of the Supreme Court, what can we do about it. Colleges have to abide by it.”
The situation seems anomalous given India’s international policy on education and government sources said that they are looking into the matter.
Heads of top central medical institutions in Delhi, however, 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.
Vardhman Medical College is attached to Safdarjung Hospital for clinical teaching. The college is running under the umbrella of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
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.”
AIIMS conducts its own entrance examination and, therefore, foreign students admitted at its Delhi campus will not be affected.
DCI monitors over 300 dental colleges in India a large number of which are private.
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