NEET 2018 Notification Delayed: Is it due to MCI Amendments?

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Students aspiring for NEET 2018 are anxiously waiting for its official notification which was expected to be out on Feb 1, 2018. First week of February 2018 has already come to an end and there is no official update or word released from the conducting authorities on the official website. It has become a moment of Deja-vu as recalling NEET 2017 and its timeline of debatable events and consequent delays that followed.

Lakhs of aspirants are waiting to fill the application form for NEET 2018 preferably before they start with their board exams in March. Till now there is no confirmation from CBSE as to by when will they release the NEET 2018 notification. It is speculated that the cause of the notification being delayed by the official body this year is the cap of age limit fixation on NEET.

Medical Council of India on January 22, 2018 released an official gazette which states that the upper age limit for taking NEET UG test to be 25 years for unreserved category candidates and relaxation of 5 years for reserved category candidates making it 30 years for them. If this is the actual reason for the delay of the NEET 2018 exam notification then it is difficult to say that the notification will be released anytime soon as no official word from the authorities is out yet.

MCI has made amendments in the “Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997”, which clearly states that the students who have appeared or are appearing as a private candidate or through open schools for their class 12 examination are not allowed to appear for NEET. As per NEET Eligibility Criteria, candidates can only sit for the exam if they have two years of regular and continuous study of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology/Biotechnology taken together in class 12th as a full time student.

Furthermore, opting for Biology/Biotechnology as an additional subject in 10+2 is not allowed. In addition to this there is also an upper age limit as mentioned above. The upper age limit specified in the amendment would be applicable as on the date of the examination. Till date the minimum age limit for NEET is set at 17 years as on or before December 31 in the year of admission to the medical college.

The new amendment has introduced the maximum age limit as well which is 25 years for general category students and 30 years for reserved category students. The respective age has to be attained by students sitting for the NEET exam and calculation of age will be on the date of the examination. This means that for NEET 2018 general and reserved candidates should not be above 25 years and 30 years respectively on the date of exam which is tentatively May 06, 2018.

Keeping in mind the interest of open and private school students, National Institute of Open Schooling, NIOS has not accepted these amendments made by MCI. NIOS has written to the Ministry of Human Resource and Development to take action against the gazette released by MCI. MHRD has accepted the application from NIOS and has advised the Ministry of Health not to implement the new rules and roll back the amendments.

There have been reports which suggest that the MCI has been asked to take back their amendments made on January 22, 2018 but there is no conformation yet regarding the same. It may so happen that MCI is working on making changes in their orders which is resulting in CBSE delaying the release of NEET 2018 notification. There could also be contention over the age limit mentioned in the notification because as per news reports few students were planning of taking this matter to the Supreme Court. Students are planning to challenge the MCI’s upper age limit rule for NEET in the apex court.

There is no clear picture yet as to the new rules by MCI will be implemented from this year or not. It seems that different bodies like NIOS, MCI and Ministry of Health all have different opinions over the matter of upper age limit and private school students appearing for NEET. The delay in NEET 2018 online notification may be extended if there is no conclusion over the MCI’s gazette soon. Hopefully, the medical aspirants this year do not have to face the same chaos which faced in the NEET 2017 and the NEET 2018 application process starts within a week.

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