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Year after year, seats under the NRI quota in medical colleges in India fall empty. This year, only 29 out of 577 medical seats under the quota were taken at the end of first round of medical and dental counselling in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Karnataka. The situation has been reported to be more or less the same in other states.
In Tamil Nadu, out of the 143 NRI quota seats in eight top universities, 85 are vacant. Some colleges, like the ACS Medical College in Chennai, are yet to get even one student under the category, while others like Meenakshi Medical College Hospital in Chennai and Vinayaka Mission in Salem managed to get only three students each, according to Times of India.
At Mumbai’s DY Patil Medical College Hospital, only 10 NRI seats were filled. Manipal’s Kasturba Medical College, which offers 38 NRI seats, saw 30 seats remain vacant. The Vishakhapatnam-based GITAm Institute of Medical Sciences got no traction at all under the quota, while only 121 of the total 343 seats were filled in the entire state of Andhra Pradesh.
In Punjab, only 41 students have registered for online counselling for a total of 300 NRI seats in MBBS and BDS in private and government medical colleges this year.
In India, 15 per cent of the total seats are reserved for Non-Resident Indians or Persons of Indian origin.
The primary reason for this curious trend is that these seats are extremely expensive, officials in the Karnataka Examination Authority told the Hindu. Fee of these NRI seats has also been increased by 40 per cent this year. The reason for this hike was attributed to the fact that the management will be sending these seats — since the prohibitive fee would cause a drop in the number of applications — back to the colleges to distribute them among candidates of their choice. As per orders of the Supreme Court, the vacant seats will be given back to respective universities.
However, this seat is also not the candidate’s first choice. Most candidates applied for it as choices two and three, sources in the Medical Education Department were quoted by the Hindu as saying. This means that the candidates are looking at these seats only in case they do not get admission under the cheaper general category.
The trend of vacant NRI seats has prompted many private institutions to consider lowering the fee to attract more students. Sri Guru Ram Das Medical College (SGRDMC) at Amritsar reduced the tuition fee from $1.1 lakh (Rs 70 lakh) to $95,000 (Rs 60.47 lakh) for MBBS course and waived registration fee worth $16,500 (Rs 10.5 lakh) for NRI candidates, according to The Tribune. The college also said that it will not charge hostel fee from NRI students pursuing the course.