Justice AK Rajan report shows how NEET disadvantages poor candidates

Comparative demographic data of students who have been admitted to medical colleges in TN over the years shows harsh changes for poor and marginalised students post NEET.
NEET students walking into exam hall
NEET students walking into exam hall

Data from the Justice AK Rajan committee report shows that NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) hinders rural, poor, and government school students from securing admissions in medical colleges. Particularly Tamil medium educated, state board students, and first generation graduates, have a tough time clearing NEET, the report shows. 

Based on the table below, in 2010, 80.2% of English medium-educated students and 19.79% of Tamil medium students were admitted to various medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. But in 2017 after NEET was introduced, 98.41% of students who got admissions were English-medium educated. Only 1.6% of students who secured seats were Tamil-medium educated. Not much has changed this year too. In 2020-2021, 98.01% students who secured medical admission were English-medium educated, the rest 1.99% studied in Tamil medium schools. 

NEET does poorly in other metrics of social development too. For example, data from pre- and post-NEET years show that the exam heavily favours non-first generation graduates or FGGs. In 2010-2011, the percentage of FGG candidates securing medical seats was 24.61% (non-FGGs securing admissions stood at 75.39%). 

But in 2017, after NEET, this percentage dropped drastically to 14.46% of FGG candidates securing medical seats, leaving the rest (a huge chunk of 85.54%) to non-FGG candidates. 

NEET also puts Tamil Nadu’s State Board Students at a disadvantage, as the exam and its curriculum favours CBSE educated students. The below table shows that in 2014-2015, out of 1,798 state board students who applied, 26 got into government medical colleges, and 12 got into self financed medical colleges — making it a total of 38 state board candidates to secure seats in Tami lNadu. 

However this changed in 2017-2018, post NEET, when no state board candidate out of 474 students who applied secured a government medical seat. Three candidates got seats at self financed medical colleges. 

If state board students are at a set back thanks to NEET, Tamil Nadu’s government students are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to clearing the exam, the report shows. “The NEET has discriminated against them (government school students) further as their MBBS share in the post NEET has fallen down from 14.44% average in the pre-NEET to a negligible 1.7% in 2020- 21 in the post-NEET,” the report states. 

This pattern has also led to several state board and government school students migrating to private CBSE schools after 2017, in order to clear NEET. Data from the report shows that in 2011, government schools had 48.12 % of class 12 students, government aided schools had 30.56% of students and 21.32 % students were in private schools. But from 2017 onwards, the percentage strength of students in government and government aided schools, in class 12, have steadily declined with private schools seeing more admissions. In 2020-2021, 41.94% students of class 12 were in government schools, 25.89 % in government aided schools and 32.17% in private schools.

Most importantly, the number of students clearing the exam on repeat attempts, and there the number of students repeating the exam, has increased drastically in the post-NEET era. 

In 2011-2012, 99.29% of the students cleared the exam in the first try and only 0.71% of candidates were repeaters. But in 2020-2021, only 28.58% of the students secured seats in their first attempt. The rest, 71.42%, were repeating candidates. Repeating is a luxury that only the financially affluent students (typically from non-marginalised sections of the society) can afford to do. In his interview with TheNewsMinute, Justice AK Rajan says that “rural and poor students don't have resources or wherewithal to write NEET” and cannot repeat the exam. 

Social groups clearing NEET in open category 

Not surprisingly, NEET has robbed marginalised sections including SC/ST candidates of the few seats they secured in the pre-NEET era. Data shows that in 2011-12, 2.69% SC, 0.38% SCA (Scheduled Caste Assistance) and 0.19% ST students secured MBBS seats in the open category. In 2020-2021, this number has fallen to 1.10%, 0.11% and 0% for the same communities respectively. 

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