31 July 2022 16:30:00 IST

More than 8,000 new medical seats this year, but it is not enough

Aspiring medicos: The struggle for a seat

Growing up in a family of doctors, you would naturally want to don a white coat and a stethoscope down the line. Adil Ahmed* says, this is why he wants to be a doctor. The 18-year-old from Jammu had attempted the National Eligibility cum Entrance test for the first time, on July 17., a couple of weeks before we spoke to him.

Adil isn't quite hopeful of getting a medical seat this year even though he thinks that the exam went 'pretty well'. The reason: the number of medical seats in India are not enough to cater to the demand of the aspirants. The latest data available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reveals that there are 91,927 MBBS seats in India across 612 medical colleges but, 18.7 lakh people wrote NEET Undergraduate, across the country.

This means that for one medical seat, there are more than 20 people competing. These seats are spread across 322 government and 290 private colleges.

The good and the bad

On the bright side, this academic saw a 10.3 per cent increase in the number of medical seats, reveals the MoHFW data. While 4,777 new government seats were added, the number of new seats added in private medical colleges were 4,075. Last year, India had just a little over 83,000 seats. However, this spike is still far from sufficient to match the demand. Along with the medical seats, the number of people who write NEET is also going up every year.

This year, 3.3 lakh more people wrote the exam, compared to 2021. While there were 18 people fighting for a medical seat in the country last year, this year, the number has gone up to 20.

So, what do the ones who do not score enough to get a medical seat in India do? A fraction of them go abroad to study medicine. According to the data available with the National Board of Examination, in 2021, close to 25,000 students wrote the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination.

However, Adil is not one of those students who would want to study abroad. "Medical education abroad is quite expensive for someone like me. In case I fail to make it this year, I'd write NEET again in 2023. If that fails, I'll look for another course where the competition isn't this high," he says.

Spread across states

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka account for a quarter of these medical seats with The former has 10,725 seats and Karnataka cumulatively has 10,145 MBBS seats. While in Tamil Nadu, most of these seats are in government colleges (5,500), most of Karnataka's medical seats are in private colleges (6,995). They are followed by Maharashtra with 9,895 medical seats spread over 62 colleges.

*Name changed on request