National Medical Commission Overhauls Criteria in Accordance with NEP, Offers Flexibility to Aspiring Medical Students
In a significant move, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has revised the eligibility criteria for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Undergraduate (NEET UG). This decision, prompted by the flexibility advocated in the National Education Policy (NEP), allows students to include Biology as an additional subject even after completing their Class 12.
According to a public notice issued by the NMC on Wednesday, students who have pursued Physics, Chemistry, Biology, or Biotechnology along with English, even as an additional subject after passing Class 12 from recognized boards, will now be eligible to appear for the NEET-UG test. Notably, this revision applies retroactively, even to those students whose applications were previously rejected.
The change comes in the wake of a reevaluation of the erstwhile Medical Council of India’s (MCI) regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997, including various amendments under Chapter-II, which had previously dictated admission and selection criteria for the MBBS course.
Under the previous regulations, candidates were required to undergo two years of regular or continuous study of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, or Biotechnology in Class 11 and 12, with practical, alongside English. The study had to be completed in regular schools, not open schools or as private candidates. Importantly, the study of Biology and Biotechnology or any other necessary subject could not be pursued as an additional subject after passing Class 12, according to the notice.
These provisions were challenged before the Delhi High Court and were nullified through a judgment dated May 11, 2018, in a related case. The consequences of this decision affected candidates seeking admission to graduate and primary medical courses in foreign medical institutes due to statutory regulations, including the eligibility requirement for admission to an Undergraduate Medical Course in a Foreign Medical Institution, 2002, and the Screening Test Regulation, 2002.
In response to these changes, candidates were debarred from the NEET-UG test, and their applications for eligibility certificates were rejected.
The NMC, in the meantime, introduced the Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2023, notified on June 2. Regulation 11(b) of these regulations states that candidates who have passed Class 12 or its equivalent with subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Biotechnology, and English are eligible to appear for NEET-UG.
With the framing of the Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2023, the earlier regulations from 1997, along with amendments, stand repealed prospectively, according to the NMC notice.
The decision to relax the eligibility criteria was reached after detailed deliberations in a meeting held on June 14, 2023, taking into account the New Education Policy’s emphasis on flexibility in the study of various subjects in Class 12. The NMC, in its decision, revisited the previous approach of the MCI, allowing candidates to study the required subjects, including Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Biotechnology, and English, even as additional subjects after passing Class 12 from recognized boards.
Candidates meeting these criteria will now be allowed to appear for the NEET-UG test and will be eligible for the grant of eligibility certificates, as per the notice.
This decision applies retrospectively to candidates whose applications for eligibility certificates were previously rejected on the grounds outlined in the public notice. However, for the purpose of appearing in NEET-UG, candidates becoming eligible after the date of the notice will be permitted to appear in NEET-UG-2024.
To facilitate these changes, the NMC has committed to withdrawing court cases filed by the MCI/NMC in this regard before any court. The current position outlined in the public notice will be communicated in all pending litigations filed by candidates against the MCI or NMC, ensuring swift resolution.