New Delhi, March 6
Massive mismatch between the demand and supply of medical undergraduate education in India is driving international migration of students through the roof besides escalating the cost of education at home.
Despite recent additions to the number of MBBS seats, the national intake capacity remains far below required levels. The Tribune analysis of government data for the past seven years reveals that while the number of MBBS aspirants increased exponentially by 166 per cent between 2014 and 2021, the number of MBBS seats grew by only 58 per cent — three times lower than demand.
This vast demand supply gap has pushed the seat-aspirant ratio higher over the years. Where 11 candidates were competing for one MBBS seat in 2014, 19 are competing for a seat today. This is also why private MBBS education has become costly and out of reach for common students.
Several Ukraine-returned students are high rankers of 2021 National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-UG, but migrated abroad because their ranks were not high enough to secure a government college admission and they had no means to pay Rs 1.5 crore fee for a private college MBBS course.
The government data shows that in 2014, 5,79,604 candidates appeared for CBSE’s All-India Pre-Medical Test for 52,000 MBBS seats. In 2021, 15,44,275 candidates competed for 82,000 MBBS seats nationally. Where India added a whopping 9,64,671 students to the pool of MBBS aspirants in seven years, it added only 30,000 seats during the same period. Experts say the gap between medical education demand and supply lies at the root of continuing international migration of students.
“The problem is clear and hard to fix. The number of aspirants is rising exponentially, but the number of MBBS seats is increasing incrementally,” former Executive Director of the National Board of Examination (NBE) Bipin Batra says.
The NBE conducts the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE), the licensure exam for Indians with foreign medical degrees wanting to practice at home. Data accessed by The Tribune shows that the pool of Indian students with foreign medical degrees, appearing for FMGE, has risen by a massive 479 per cent since 2009.
Where 6,170 Indian students with medical degrees took the FMGE in 2009, as many as 35,774 appeared in 2020 — a 479% increase.
Batra says pass percentage of foreign graduates has been low since the test was first proposed in 2002. “The pass percentage averaged 19 per cent between 2015 and 2018 when the NBE conducted a performance appraisal of FMGs,” Batra said. The pass percentage in FMGE declined further from 25.79 per cent in 2019 to 16.48 per cent in 2020.
Efforts to improve quality
- Before 2019, students interested in taking medical edu abroad were required to get eligibility certificate from govt
- Since 2019, Health Ministry has made mandatory for students to clear NEET-UG as a prerequisite to pursue medical education abroad
- Beginning 2019, students who appear for NEET-UG will be eligible to appear for FMGE
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