The Medical Education Commission (MEC) has planned to hold a common entrance examination for new admissions in various Bachelor level programmes, including MBBS and BDS, at medical institutes.
Preparations are on for the common MBBS entrance examination for the upcoming session in coordination with the institutes concerned across the country, according to the commission formed on the recommendation of the Mathema Commission and as per the agreement signed with Dr Govinda KC, senior orthopaedic surgeon at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. Ministers for Health and Education are the co-chairs on the commission.
The medical institutes affiliated to the Tribhuvan University, the Kathmandu University as well as the ones not affiliated to any universities have been organising separate entrance examinations for MBBS.
Last month, the commission instructed the medical institutes, including BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) in Dharan, not to announce the dates for their MBBS entrance examinations until further notice. The MEC has also asked the Nepal Medical Council (NMC) not to reveal the number of MBBS seats allocated for different institutions until they are instructed to do so.
Over the years, the MBBS entrance examinations conducted by the institutes have embroiled in controversies over exam breaches. Besides the instances of applicants using fake examinees in the entrance tests and paper leaks from different exam centres, examinees were found using electronic devices inside the exam halls, raising serious question over the fairness of those exams.
Secretary at the MEC Lal Jung Chauhan believes the proposed common entrance examination model will help check such activities. “Corruption and rampant cheating at different examination centres is the reason why we are combining examinations of all the medical institutes,” said Chauhan, adding that the government was considering holding the first such test in Kathmandu Valley.
The Education Ministry is also in consultations with the deans of different institutes and vice-chancellors of the KU and the TU on new common syllabus, questions and student’s preference of institutions. Under the new entrance test model, students can choose institutions as per their preference.
The proposed plan has drawn mixed reactions from the stakeholders.
Former vice-chairman of MEC and consultant cardiac surgeon Dr Bhagawan Koirala has welcomed the plan but said some more works need to be done before implementing it. “It is a great plan to hold a common entrance examination, but the process needs some homework to fix some common criteria which would benefit both the institutes as well as the students,” said Dr Koirala.
TU Vice-chancellor Tirtha Raj Khaniya has a different take on the plan, saying: “The entrance process should be left as it is now. The university and other institutes should have autonomy to conduct their own examinations and select students.” He, however, said the TU would implement the combined entrance exam if the government decides to go ahead with it.
Nearly 15,000 students take the entrance examinations to compete every year for a total of over 2,000 MBBS seats allocated by various institutions at different times, allowing the prospective students to apply for admission in as many institutions of their choice.
Dean of School of Medical Science at the KU Dr Rajendra Koju said the policy will be applicable to the government and private universities as well as those institutes not affiliated to any universities. “The academic calendar and entry criteria of all the institutes must be uniform,” added Koju.