Hundreds of medical students are facing an uncertain academic future due to an alleged delay in interpretation and implementation of a new set of relaxed guidelines for academic assessment that the National Medical Commission (NMC) said would come into effect from 1 August.
A group of students studying in Andaman & Nicobar Islands Institute of Medical Sciences (ANIIMS) has even planned to approach the NMC and Pondicherry University for the delay in taking a decision on the matter.
“Our examinations began in July and ended after 1 August, but we don’t know if our Pondicherry University will offer us the relaxed assessment provision or not as these guidelines are supposed to apply from 1 August,” said one student from Uttar Pradesh, who did not want to be named.
There are about 3,000 students across the country who would get promoted to the next semester if the relaxed passing criteria were implemented in their case. However, the universities and the NMC have not been able to offer clarity even as they wait anxiously.
“I would have to repeat a semester or one full year if I am not considered under the relaxed passing criteria,” said a student seeking some relaxation in the implementation of the new passing criteria with retrospective effect.
Several students, whose results have been declared after 1 August, have written to NMC as well as to their colleges for revising their result in view of new revised passing criteria. “Waiting for the revised results is not only making them anxious but also their second-year studies are also getting affected,” said a medical student’s parent.
However, NMC board member Yoginder Malik dismissed the talk about confusion over the matter. “There is no confusion. The new guidelines will be applied with prospective effect for examinations held after 1 August,” he said, indicating that academic curriculum taught after 1 August and assessed in subsequent examinations will be based on the new passing criteria.
“Any student who has doubts can contact the NMC or their university authorities for clarification,” he said.
The NMC vide its notification F. No. U/14021/8/2023-UGMEB dated August 1 and subsequent corrigendum vide F. No. U/14021/8/2023-UGMEB dated September 1 revised the Competency Based Medical Education Curriculum (CBME) Guidelines along with the passing criteria.
According to NMC, these guidelines are applicable for all stakeholders, i.e. for every student of every batch admitted to MBBS course since 2019, presently pursuing MBBS in a medical college/institution which is under the jurisdiction of NMC.
The new criteria says that in subjects that have two papers, the learner must secure a minimum 40% of marks in aggregate (both papers together) to pass in the said subject. The criteria for passing in a subject specifies that a candidate shall obtain 50% marks in aggregate and 60:40 (minimum) or 40:60 (minimum) in University conducted examination separately in theory and in practical (practical includes; practical/clinical and viva voce) in order to be declared as passed in that subject.
Subsequently NMC vide its notification no. F. No. U/14021/8/2023-UGMEB dated October 1 stated that retrospective effect related to the guidelines is not possible, implying that the said guidelines shall be effective from 1 August 2023.
Medical students claim the NMC has made too many and frequent tweaks in the guidelines which has added to the confusion. “Without sacrificing the high standards of medical education, if the NMC relaxes the norms it will be a big help to students and the country which is trying to further improve its doctor to patient ratio from 1:834,” said an MBBS student in Delhi.