Indian students who want to study MBBS abroad will now have to clear the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

The Union Ministry of Health has on February 13, 2018 approved a proposal of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and made it mandatory for students to clear NEET to pursue courses in foreign medical colleges.

“Indian citizens/overseas citizen of India intending to obtain primary medical qualification from any medical institution outside India, on or after May 2018, shall have to mandatorily qualify the NEET for admission to MBBS course abroad,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

The ministry said that the NEET results will be treated as the Eligibility Certificate for those students who fulfil the eligibility criteria as per the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997.

“The result of NEET shall be deemed to be treated as the Eligibility Certificate for such persons, provided that such persons fulfil the eligibility criteria for admission to the MBBS course prescribed in the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997,” the statement added.

So far only students who wanted to study MBBS within the country had to clear the NEET.

“It has come to notice that medical institutions / Universities of foreign countries admit Indian students without proper assessment or screening of the students’ academic ability to cope up with medical education with the result that many students fail to qualify the Screening Test,” the statement from the ministry added.

A senior health ministry official said that among those who go abroad to study medicine, around 12-15% of the graduates manage to clear the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), a licensure examination conducted by the Medical Council of India.

“A mere 12-15% of the graduates, who come back after studying abroad, manage to clear the FMGE. If they don’t clear the FMGE, they don’t get registered to practice in India,” he said, adding, “In such cases, they start quackery or practice illegally which can be dangerous. So the move is aimed at ensuring only competent students get to study medicine in foreign universities.”

According to reports, around 7,000 students go outside India to study medicine every year and most of them go to China and Russia for the purpose.

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