Non-Karnataka origin students aspiring for postgraduate medical and dental courses in the state received a severe shock when the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) revised the eligibility criteria by introducing the fresh ‘Karnataka origin only’ condition. This notification is a major setback for students who are currently pursuing MBBS/ BDS from the state and want to pursue their post-graduation from the state. They are in a dilemma because now they cannot apply for the state quota seats under the National Eligibility and Entrance Test for Post Graduation (NEET PG) due to their ‘non-domiciled’ status.

Reactions are evident. A medical student who is pursuing MBBS from Bengaluru said, “Why this sudden imposition on us? I want to pursue my post-graduation from here but my future seems uncertain now”.

However, some parents of students are hopeful that this decision will be quashed due to the upcoming assembly elections. A mother of an aspiring student said, “This happened before too and was rejected by the court. This time, the assembly elections are approaching. So, the government won’t take any chance to offend us. This time, too, it will be rejected.”

A similar problem had erupted in 2014 as well. However, the timely intervention of the Supreme Court led to the lifting of the restrictions imposed on the non-domiciled students. Ever since then, they had been eligible for the post-graduate courses under the state quota.

Jayna Kothari, who is an advocate, has already filed a petition against the KEA domicile criteria in the Karnataka High Court. She believes that this is a knee-jerk decision. She wonders as to why such a restriction has been imposed when the Apex Court cleared the issue in 2014 itself. She adds that this is definitely against the law and hurts the national interests.

Karnataka as an Educational Hub – MBBS Admissions through NEET UG

Karnataka has become a hub for medical education in the country for a number of reasons. For one, it has the highest number of MBBS seats. The fee structure in most of the private colleges is around Rs. 6 lakhs per annum, which is substantially lower, compared to many other states. Secondly, the cosmopolitan nature of Bengaluru and its wonderful climate also attract a large number of students.  In a recent pan-India survey, the state of Karnataka was ranked as one of the best destinations for pursuing medical courses. Bengaluru is its capital, which is not only an IT hub but a dream city too for all the aspiring students seeking admissions to various medical courses. They can take admission in MBBS and BDS courses through the NEET UG. Seats, albeit, are allotted based on the rankings and the availability of the state-quota seats. There is no separate entrance examination conducted by the state government.

What Is the NEET Issue for Postgraduate Courses for Non-Karnataka Students?

NEET UG, which is a national level examination for the undergraduate medical courses, is conducted by the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Candidates can get admission through NEET UG to the MBBS and BDS courses provided by the various government and private medical colleges in India.

However, for the postgraduate aspirants, NEET PG is the selection test. It is organized by the National Board of Examinations (NBE). Candidates seeking admissions to MD/ MS courses or other postgraduate diploma courses need to appear for the NEET PG exam. Various top colleges and universities of the country provide admission to the postgraduate medical courses on the basis of NEET PG scores. As for the postgraduate medical courses in Karnataka, even students from other states could apply under the state quota up till now.

‘Karnataka Origin’ Eligibility  

The latest notification by the KEA for the state quota admission clearly says that a candidate has to be from Karnataka or have a Karnataka origin to be eligible.

It means that a candidate should have studied and passed both the years of pre-university (1st and 2nd years), or 11th and 12th class examinations from any educational institution in Karnataka.

The other option is that the candidate should have studied the medical degree courses, i.e., MBBS or BDS in any medical or dental college located within Karnataka. However, the additional condition stipulates that either of the parents of a candidate must have resided/ studied in the state of Karnataka for at least 10 years.

Students in Shock

With the latest introduction of this ‘Karnataka Origin’ condition, students are shocked. For instance, a BDS student who studied for five years and completed his degree in Karnataka is in a dilemma as he originally hails from Maharashtra. His predicament is that his parent state will also not permit him to pursue post-graduation there as he did not study there.

“The non-Karnataka candidates can now apply only under the all-India quota,” said Ganesh from the Postgraduate Department of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, a government medical college in Bengaluru.

S. Sachidanand, the dean of the institute, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts by this edInbox correspondent.

What Is the Way out?

The entire episode has left the students in the dark.  Despite having done MBBS/ BDS degree courses from Karnataka, a significant number of students are now not eligible for postgraduate admission.

Students are wondering about their future without a postgraduate degree. Having invested a tremendous amount of money, time and energy; the non-Karnataka medical graduates are clueless in the absence of a uniform domicile policy.

Dr. Aniruddh Dash, an Associate Professor at the IMS & SUM Hospital in Bhubaneswar opined, “The eligibility conditions vary from state to state. There should be one uniform domicile policy for all states and Karnataka shouldn’t be an exception.”

Dr. Bandana, who is a teacher at a medical college in Kerala and who did her medical post-graduation from Chennai, said, “Take the help of jurisdiction to resolve the issue.” She was clearly referring to the Supreme Court decision in 2014.

Karnataka has emerged as a major educational destination and needless to say this trend brings a lot of revenue to the state coffers. It might be advisable for the state to revisit this decision and incorporate suitable changes.

#neet #karnataka

Reporting by Varsha Priyadarshini
Special correspondent, Bengaluru