‘Zero’: New cut-off percentile for NEET-PG aspirants — a boon for students or private medical colleges?

The Medical Counselling Committee has lowered the qualifying percentile for NEET-PG exam to 'zero'. This change applies to all categories.

BySumit Jha

Published Sep 21, 2023 | 8:00 AMUpdated Sep 21, 2023 | 8:23 AM

‘Zero’: New cut-off percentile for NEET-PG aspirants — a boon for students or private medical colleges?

Congratulations, med students! You have successfully cleared the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) Post Graduate examination. The good news is that you are now eligible for admission to PG courses at any medical college across the country in the third round of counselling.

Regardless of your score — whether it’s 0, 5, or 100 percent — you can rest assured that you have met the qualification criteria for PG admission. This opens up exciting opportunities for your future in the field of medicine.

MCC lowers cut-off to zero

Yes, that’s right. The Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) has lowered the qualifying percentile for the NEET-PG exam to zero. This change applies to all categories, as confirmed by an official notification by the committee.

“It is for the information of candidates that the qualifying percentile for PG courses (Medical/Dental) for NEET-PG Counselling 2023 has been reduced to ‘ZERO’ across all categories by MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare),” the notification read.

As a result of this decision, fresh registration and choice submission for the third round of PG Counselling will be reopened for eligible candidates. This revision in the qualifying percentile now allows medical aspirants, who previously didn’t meet the cut-off, to register for the postgraduate exam. Those who already registered can also edit their choices.

A fresh schedule for Round-3 onwards for PG Counselling will be put up on the MCC website soon.

Also read: TN: Will bringing education back on State List end NEET-linked suicides?

Original demand was reduction by 30%

In response to the delayed counselling process caused by the cut-off issue, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) addressed a letter to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on 13 September. In this letter, the IMA requested a reduction in the NEET-PG 2023 cut-off percentile by up to 30 percent.

The IMA argued that such a reduction would enable a significant number of aspiring doctors to enrol in postgraduate programmes at various medical colleges across the country, ensuring that no postgraduate seats remain vacant.

“We should not forget that during previous Covid waves, when the country was in the state of emergency and people were dying, doctors left their homes and served the nation fervently. The time has come for the administration to recognise them for their selfless service by reducing the cut-off marks for NEET-PG 2023,” IMA stated, in an official letter.

However, the MCC reduced it to zero.

Also read: NEET aspirant from Salem ends life while preparing for 3rd attempt

A question of meritocracy

This decision, unfortunately, has not gone down well with the doctors’ community. Some are calling it a mockery of medical education, while others are saying that it’s been done for the benefit of private medical colleges.

“We are shocked to see such a notice released by the Ministry of Health regarding NEET-PG cut-off. It is ridiculous to see zero percentile candidates are eligible for getting a Postgraduate seat. This is a mockery of the standard of medical education & healthcare system,” said the Federation of All India Doctors’ Association (FAIMA) on X.

Speaking to South First, FAIMA Chairman Dr Rohan Krishnan, said, “I believe that this decision undermines the principles of meritocracy and disproportionately benefits students who may need more academic support. The inception of a standardised examination like NEET in India was primarily aimed at ensuring that merit takes precedence, without any external interference. However, reducing the qualifying percentile to ‘zero’ could potentially have detrimental effects on our nation’s healthcare system.”

He added that the call for a reduction in the NEET-PG cut-off by certain medical associations is concerning. “While a lower cut-off may address some issues, completely abolishing it with a ‘zero’ cut-off is an ill-advised proposition. This could inadvertently discourage aspiring medical graduates, who are unable to afford private colleges and did not secure seats in government medical colleges. It sends a discouraging message to them, which is far from ideal,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IMA is happy with decisions taken by the Health Ministry, it said in a statement.

What doctors have to say

Dr Deepak Krishnamoorthy, weighed in on X, “Zero percentile is the new cut off! It is high time patients ask their treating doctors about their academic performance and how they got into their MBBS, PG, and super specialty.”

“When the exam cut-off is Zero, seats to go vacant are Zero. College fees in multiples of Zero. Bank balance of parents Zero. Future of merit students? Is this a good or bad move?” asked another doctor on X.

‘This could compromise quality’

Many other doctors are also pointing out the potential consequences this “zero” cut-off may have on the merit-based selection of medical professionals and the healthcare structure of the nation.

“You might have already seen that many of the doctors are already asking people to check the academics of the doctors they see. It is setting a bad precedent. Lowering the cut-off to ‘zero’ can raise concerns about whether candidates with strong subject knowledge and skills are being adequately identified and selected. Merit-based selection is crucial for maintaining the quality and competence of healthcare professionals,” Dr G Balaji of the Telangana Junior Doctors’ Association told South First.

The quality of healthcare is directly linked to the competence of medical professionals. “It may compromise the overall quality of medical education and, by extension, the quality of healthcare services. Ensuring that healthcare professionals are well-prepared and qualified is vital for the nation’s healthcare system,” he added.

Also read: PG doctors in Telangana speak out about the junior-senior relationship