The National Board of Examination (NBE) has lowered the NEET-PG cut-off by 15 percentile in order to fill up over 6,000 seats for postgraduate courses in medicine that remain vacant even after two rounds of counselling. The NBE conducts NEET-PG, the qualification tests for these PG courses, in the country.
The NEET-PG cut-offs have been revised to 35 percentile for general category students, 30 percentile for persons with disability, and 25 percentile for SC, ST, or OBC candidates, according to the NBE.
For just over 42,000 PG seats across the country, around 1.5 lakh doctors apply for NEET-PG after completing their MBBS degree and a one-year mandatory internship. However, despite the number of doctors applying for PG courses being more than three times the number of seats, 6,266 seats have remained vacant for the final NEET-PG mop-up round in 2021, according to the NBE.
In 2020, there were altogether 1,425 PG seats that remained vacant even after the mop-up round of counselling, as per data provided by the Union Health Ministry in the Lok Sabha.
The cut-offs were revised by the testing authority on the Health Ministry’s directions issued on Saturday. A letter from the Medical Counselling Committee member secretary, Dr B Srinivas, to the NBE executive director, Dr Minu Bajpai, states, “After due discussion and deliberations, it has been decided by MoHFW in consultation with NMC… to reduce cut-off. In view of the above, you are requested to kindly declare the revised result and send revised result data of newly eligible candidates.”
The move has been welcomed by doctors’ associations, which had made a similar demand earlier. “This is a good move by the government and much needed. This year, the exams were delayed twice due to Covid-19, and in the meantime many (doctors) worked in the Covid wards, they got Covid themselves, and some lost their family members,” said Dr Rohan Krishnan, the Federation of All India Medical Associations (FAIMA) president.
This was necessary, he said, to ensure that all seats get filled up and the existing PG students are not left “overburdened” again. “We need more doctors now, over 6,000 seats cannot be left vacant,” he said. The PG students also work in the associated hospitals as junior residents.
The doctors affiliated to the FAIMA and the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association had gone on a strike in December last year after the counselling was deferred due to court cases following a six-month delay in the examination.