MBBS, PG medical seats need to be significantly increased: Parl panel suggests virtual learning

The revised NMC guidelines states permission for an increase in MBBS seats will be granted for 50, 100 and 150 seats from the academic year 2024-25.

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The panel suggests the ministry to introduce distance learning to allow access to medical education for more students. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)The panel suggests the ministry to introduce distance learning to allow access to medical education for more students. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Press Trust of India | February 12, 2024 | 11:25 AM IST

NEW DELHI: There is a need to significantly increase medical seats in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, a parliamentary committee said, noting that the government's existing scheme of establishing new medical colleges attached to district or referral hospitals can help in achieving this goal.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in its its 157th report "Quality of Medical Education in India" presented in Rajya Sabha noted that the current situation regarding medical seats both in undergraduate and postgraduate courses is a critical issue that warrants immediate attention.

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"With an annual influx of approximately 2 million aspiring medical students at UG and only 1/20 times available seats, the demand far exceeds the supply, similarly, the number of available seats at PG level is far less than the demand," the committee said in its report. It acknowledged the urgency of addressing this challenge while maintaining the quality of medical education at its highest standard.

The panel further recommended to the Union health ministry that it is essential to make optimal use of the existing infrastructure. Ensuring that all available resources and facilities are utilized efficiently can help accommodate a larger number of students without compromising the quality of education.

Additionally, streamlining the admission process by implementing a standardised national entrance examination can improve fairness and transparency in seat allocation, the panel said. The committee has taken note of the detailed Minimum Standards Regulations (UG-MSR) notified on August 16, 2023.

Also read Low score, pay more! NEET UG, PG tail-enders bag seats through NRI quota

Rules for opening new medical college

While examining the subject, it came across several concerns over some of the guidelines for opening of a new medical college and also regarding permission to increase the number of undergraduate seats. The permission for an increase in MBBS seats will be granted for 50, 100 and 150 seats from the academic year 2024-25.

The committee noted that based on the guidelines for 200 and 250 seats at various places have provisions for infrastructure and faculty positions. it further said that many medical colleges have 200 and 250 seats adding that the ideal batch size for a faculty to impart teaching is 150.

The committee, however, stated that as per the guidelines, given the infrastructure and faculty position required in place, a college, whether old or new, may be considered for granting permission to increase, in phases, the undergraduate seats up to a maximum of 250.

The committee also suggested exploring the avenue of encouraging private investment in medical education and said providing incentives and regulatory support to private institutions willing to establish medical colleges can not only increase seat availability but also introduce healthy competition and innovation in medical education.

Also read 485 UG, 247 PG medical seats vacant in 2023: Govt tells Parliament

Distance learning and medical education

It also recommended the ministry to leverage technology for distance learning and organise virtual classrooms that can be a supplementary solution to address the shortage of seats, allowing a more significant number of students to access medical education without overburdening physical infrastructure.

The committee further pointed out that the WHO norms recommend a doctor-population ratio of 1:1000, and according to the NMC, the country has already achieved a ratio of 1:856. However, the concern area associated with opening a new medical college is the number of prescribed department-wise and total patient Bed capacity, read along with the requirement of their 80 per cent average occupancy in the attached hospital, it said.

The committee recommended the government that such one size-fits-all criterion prescribed in the UG-MSR may be revisited to take into account the geographic imbalances, if any, and formulate region-specific guidelines/ norms.

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