Karnataka wants 5% NRI quota in government medical colleges to raise funds; students oppose

NMC said they may approve the 5% supernumerary MBBS seats; NRI quota candidates will still come through NEET counselling and sign rural service bonds.

(Image: Directorate of medical education, Karnataka official website)(Image: Directorate of medical education, Karnataka official website)

Sanjay | May 28, 2024 | 05:39 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The Karnataka government has sent a proposal to the National Medical Commission (NMC) seeking permission for a Non Resident Indian (NRI) quota in its government medical colleges. The government is aiming to raise funds for development and research programmes through these 5% supernumerary seats under NRI quota in its 22 government-run medical colleges. Unlike regular MBBS seats in government colleges, education for NRI seats are not subsidised.

The directorate of Karnataka medical education had proposed an NRI quota in its government medical colleges last year too but did not get any response from NMC.

“Through the new proposal sent to NMC, we are looking at adding a minimum of 5% seats to the existing number. We are hoping to get more meritorious students under NRI quota in the government medical colleges,” BL Sujatha Rathod, director, Directorate of Medical Education, Karnataka, told Careers360.

At present, NRI quota seats are available only in private medical colleges across Karnataka. The MBBS course fees for these seats range between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 50 lakh annually.

“NRI candidates always bring a little extra income to the institutes which can be useful for the development of the institutes. NRI quota can generate quite nominal income in the government medical colleges which will be useful for the development of students, research programmes and colleges won’t have to wait for grants. The amount can also be used for projects related to health and wellness of the society,” said Rathod.

Karnataka medical education

Karnataka has 24 government medical colleges of which two – ESIC Medical College and Hospital, Gulbarga and ESIC Medical College and Hospital, Rajajinagar, Bangalore – are run by the central government. In the academic year 2023-24, there were 3,750 government MBBS seats in Karnataka. There are 7,995 MBBS seats in 46 private medical colleges of the state. Of the total seats in private colleges, 5% are under management and 15% under NRI quota.

Rathod said that seats under the NRI quota will be supernumerary.

“We do not want to cut down on the existing seats of government medical colleges which belong to the meritorious students from poor backgrounds. NMC’s role here is to give approval to the supernumerary seats. We want approval for adding the 5% NRI quota seats to the existing seats in government medical colleges,” she said.

Also read NEET UG 2024: 1,08,940 MBBS seats in India; maximum medical colleges, seats in Tamil Nadu

NRI quota

The NRI quota in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) counselling is a reservation for non-resident Indian students – or candidates sponsored by NRIs – who wish to study medicine in India. It provides an opportunity for Indian-origin students residing abroad to secure admission in medical colleges without having to compete with the general pool of candidates.

In line with Supreme Court’s TMA Pai judgement 2002, the private institutions reserve 15% of the total seats for the NRI category.

“NRI quota has come into existence via Supreme Court’s TMA Pai judgment. Private colleges and private deemed universities had gone to the Supreme Court for asking for a NRI quota of 15% for self-sustaining. The Supreme Court had given approval to them,” said B Srinivas, National Medical Commission secretary. He added that NMC received Karnataka government’s proposal a week ago.

Four states – Rajasthan, Haryana, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and two Union Territories (UTs) – Chandigarh and Pondicherry have NRI quotas in their government medical colleges. Now, Karnataka is keen to join the states having NRI quota in its government medical college.

“Karnataka’s proposal for introduction of NRI quota in government colleges has not much to do with NMC because we are looking after the regulations, standards of medical education. Even if there is a NRI quota in government medical colleges, they have to follow NMC’s norms on faculty, infrastructure and clinical training. The norms of NMC will apply to NRI candidates whether they study in government medical colleges or in private universities and colleges,” Srinivas said. “We are more concerned about the quality of medical education and it should not be diluted. I don’t think it will be an issue for NMC as long as they follow and adhere to NMC norms, guidelines and regulations.”

The Assam cabinet in June 2023 had proposed 10% reservation for NRI, NRI-sponsored candidates in MBBS course at government medical colleges. However, in August 2023, the Supreme Court while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) temporarily suspended the implementation of NRI quota for MBBS admissions in Assam.

Merit and privatisation

Condemning the Karnataka medical education directorate's proposal on introducing NRI quota in government medical colleges, All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) state secretary Ajay Kamath said this move will open the floodgates of privatisation in government medical colleges.

“Presently in government medical colleges annual fees have mounted up to Rs 80,000 which in itself is a fee the poor cannot afford. Further introduction of NRI quota will lend a green signal to further increase fees in these colleges and curtail seats to poor meritorious students of the state,” he added.

NRI candidates with large reserves of dollars are bagging medical seats even though they have ranks in seven digits and rock-bottom scores. They go through NEET counselling for MBBS admissions.

“Every state has its own fee fixation committee and NMC has no role in it. The admission of all students including NRI candidates is being done through common counselling. Colleges can’t take admission directly. It appears that the merit goes down because the fee is so high that everybody is not able to afford it. In an airplane there is a business class and economy class and business class seats get filled up very late because the prices are very high. So, it is up to the college authorities and state government to take a call. If they feel that merit is falling they should not do it. But if they want to have a self-sustaining and self-financing model, they will continue this trend,” Srinivas said.

Also read NEET: How NRI quota dilutes ‘merit’ but faces none of the flak reservation gets

Rathod said that there will be no privatisation in government medical colleges with the addition of NRI quota seats. “The fee of Indian students will remain the same and we will adhere to existing fee regulations,” she said.

“There is a cut-off for every category during counselling for admission in medical courses. It is unfair to compare apples with oranges but together we will make a good fruit basket for society. I will not say apples are better than oranges.Among the apples and oranges, we are looking to get the best. NRI quota won’t affect the quality of medical education,” she added.

Medical bond for NRI

While NMC bats for no bond policy, states continue to have medical bond policy to improve their healthcare system.

“The medical bond is a policy of the state government. Some states like Punjab and UTs like Delhi, there is no bond . In Delhi, we have doctors everywhere. There is a bond in Karnataka, Odisha and many other states. Under a state policy, Karnataka has recently imposed introduced a bond for medical students of deemed universities too. As far as NMC is concerned, we have said that there should not be a bond at all, that is our view. Our advisory to states is that bonds should not be there. But states say that if they don’t have a bond policy, the quality of patient care will suffer. So, it is for the state government to decide,” Srinivas said.

Also read Haryana’s MBBS bond policy a constant source of fear and stress for students

“As per Supreme Court order, every person who studies in a government medical college should have a compulsory service be it NRI or other students. Everybody including NRI will serve the service bond,” Rathod said.

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