With just 15 days to go for the first phase of counselling for admission to MBBS seats to begin, the chances of extra seats in three city medical colleges getting the nod from the Medical Council of India (MCI) are growing slimmer.
The government had written to the MCI seeking permission to increase the number of seats in the three top medical colleges in the State – Madras Medical College, Stanley Medical College, and Kilpauk Medical College.
The government had requisitioned an increase of 85 seats in Madras Medical College (which currently has 165 seats); 100 seats in Stanley Medical College (150) and an extra 50 seats at Kilpauk Medical College (100). The idea was to take the number of seats at MMC and Stanley to 250, going by the MCI's suggestion to raise the number of seats in MBBS courses.
However, the cut-off date for the MCI to send a recommendation to the Union Ministry of Health to approve a particular college, or additional seats, is June 15. The government colleges have not received any intimation so far, thus making it unlikely the seats would come through.
“It is mainly a question of enhancing infrastructure and staff strength. At the Madras Medical College, for example, we are trying to do this, but some of the requirements that the visiting MCI team expect are difficult to meet just yet,” V. Kanakasabai, Dean, MMC, says. For instance, one criterion is to have lecture halls to accommodate 300 students. “Our reasoning is that we have many halls where we can take students in batches, which is also better for teaching. But it is not acceptable to them. Also, the usual practice is to see if we have fulfilled the regulations for the first batch of MBBS students for the first year. However, this time, they are also asking us to ensure that the infrastructure is adequate even for the second and third year students,” Dr. Kanakasabai adds.
MMC, having acquired the old Central Prison premises, is working to build a unit that will satisfy all the criteria of the MCI and will also take into account future requirements, he says.
Usually, the colleges slowly upgrade their facilities over the years, to accommodate new batches of students as and when they come in. This was the procedure followed in the new government medical colleges of Tamil Nadu that were recognised over the last five years. That window is no longer available.
C. Vamsadhara, Director of Medical Education, explains, “The government plans at least three years ahead when it seeks to increase the number of seats. We started the spade work. So, to expect seats to come this year itself may be premature. The hospitals are steadily working to increase infrastructure, and once we satisfy all criteria we will get the approval from MCI.”
Meanwhile, the MCI has granted permission to two new colleges – Annapoorna Medical College, Salem (150 seats), affiliated to Dr. MGR Medical University; and Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital, Perambalur, (150 seats) affiliated to Burkatullah University.
Whether seats from these two new colleges will be surrendered to the single window MBBS counselling pool still lacks clarity.