The National Board of Examinations recently announced changes in the eligibility rules to take the Foreign Medical Graduates Exam.

Students write an examination in classRepresentative Image: PTI
news Education Thursday, July 09, 2020 - 13:51

A change in eligibility rules for the Foreign Medical Graduates Exam, conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE), has worried thousands of students presently pursuing their medical course abroad. The FMGE is a licensure examination and is a mandatory requirement for an Indian citizen who has a medical degree from a foreign institute, to practice medicine in India. This examination works as a screening test for the Medical Council of India (MCI) and is held twice in a year in June and December.

According to a medical bulletin on Tuesday put out by the NBE, on page 32, it mentions that those who wish to appear for the Foreign Medical Graduates Exam (FMGE) need to have their Primary Medical Qualification Degree certificate duly attested by the Embassy of India in the country from where the qualification has been obtained.

It also goes on to mention that a Provisional Pass Certificates shall not be considered in lieu of Degree Certificates. It is this sentence that has worried thousands of students -- several of whom took to Twitter to highlight their plight.

Experts estimate that around 20,000 students are studying in China, out of which a majority of them are studying medicine. When the number of COVID-19 cases began to surge in China earlier this year, many of the students managed to head back home to safety.

Those who are presently in the initial years of the course are not too worried as online classes have begun. Those who completed their 5-year course and were doing an internship are the ones who have been left in the lurch, as they still have a few months to complete as an intern, before they get their degree..

The medical degree in China is a 6-year course, with five years of academics followed by one year of internship. A provisional degree certificate is provided by the respective universities, to whoever has completed their 5-year course. The degree certificate is given to only those who have graduated after completing the entire 6-year course. Earlier, those with a provisional degree certificate could attempt the FMGE. But the change in rules means a number of Indian students who are in their final year of medicine will be unable to sit for the exam.

Arushi Aggarwal, who is in her fifth year of studying medicine at the Southern Medical University in China’s Guangzhou said, “When I had to return to India, I never expected that it would take so long for things to get back to normal. To make use of the time, I decided to prepare for the FMGE. After the latest bulletin was released, I’m now worried about my future.” 

“It says you need your degree certificate and that the provisional certificate will not be accepted. Without being able to complete the course, how are we expected to get our degree certificate?” she asks.

Daphne Jacob, a medical student from a university in China who was doing her internship when the pandemic broke out, is equally worried. 

“Medical students from our batch who studied in several other countries have completed the course. Those of us who were studying in China are at a great disadvantage because the pandemic originated there and our university had to shut down earlier. We had to rush back to India,” she said, adding, “Despite the exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19, it is disappointing that provisional certificates will not be accepted by the NBE.” 

Daphne’s batch had around 70 Indians out of a total of 110 students in the university and all of them are equally worried.

Athul Mohan is another medical student from China who was pursuing his internship in the country. Fortunately for him, he was among the few who managed to clear the FMGE last year, even before he completed his internship, because provisional degree certificates were being accepted at the time. 

He said, “Under the prevailing circumstances, it is difficult for Indian students to finish their course and get a degree certificate from their universities in China. There are many students who have been left in limbo because of this new decision. We are hoping that authorities will take note of the situation and make changes to the rules announced in the latest bulletin.”

As the students wait with bated breath, hoping that the eligibility rules will be amended, they are continuing their preparation for the exam and wishing that the situation gets back to normal soon.