Published: 22nd September 2022
INI-CET 2022: No further rounds of counselling, says AIIMS. Students left in a lurch
The INI-CET is a national-level entrance exam for admission to postgraduate medical courses at top medical institutes
Postgraduate medical aspirants who are awaiting counselling for the Institute of National Importance-Combined Entrance Test (INI-CET) are left in a lurch as all further rounds of counselling have been cancelled for the July 2022 session.
Students will file a plea tomorrow, September 23, in the Supreme Court, demanding that the portal for counselling be opened again as over 500 seats are still vacant, said Sarthak Vats, MBBS PG aspirant. “Students are waiting and are hoping for a better seat as the prospectus mentions that four rounds of counselling will be conducted. But the counselling process stopped on August 31 after just two rounds,” he said.
The INI-CET is a national-level entrance exam for admission to postgraduate medical courses at top medical institutes like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), National Institute of Mental Health and Sciences (NIMHANS), Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) and some other institutes.
Students claimed that the counselling process was delayed due to a pending case in the Supreme Court. As a result, all rounds of counselling couldn’t be completed before August 31, which was set as the desired date for the same in the prospectus. The examination section of AIIMS however, on September 19, issued a notice stating that no further round of seat allocation will be conducted.
What happened in the Supreme Court?
Earlier, the Supreme Court had passed an order on May 13, 2022, stating that the roster-point reservation system for preferential candidates as followed by JIPMER shall be implemented in all AIIMS institutes. This order was passed in response to petitions filed by students unions’, AIIMS Delhi and Bhopal seeking a change in the manner in which Institutional Preference (IP) seats at various AIIMS were determined during counselling for post-graduate courses in the INI-CET exam, as mentioned in the Miscellaneous Application (MA) filed by AIIMS before the court, that EdexLive has a copy of.
The results of the exam were declared on May 14, 2022. As a result of the SC order, the seat allocation process had to be changed which would include the new system of the roster-point-based reservation system. Students informed that this delayed the counselling process as the approval along with directions on the manner of reservation of seats was received only on June 29, 2022.
Subsequently, the vacant seat positions in various categories were published on July 28, 2022, as mentioned in the MA. “The prospectus does mention that the counselling process will end on August 31 but the prospectus was published before the order was given by the Supreme Court. It hasn’t been updated since then,” said Sarthak.
The counsel for AIIMS did appeal for an extension of one month — until October 31 — so that the other rounds of counselling can be completed. However, the court rejected the appeal on September 16 and said that in any circumstances, the last date for admission/joining will not be extended after August 31.
Students, however, claimed that their side of the issue was not explained by the counsel. “They did not mention the fact that more than 500 seats are vacant,” said Sunita, another MBBS PG aspirant. The MA that was filed stated that a total of 919 seats have been allocated out of which 374 candidates have reported. Out of these, only 182 candidates have confirmed their seats and taken admission, and the remaining have chosen an option to upgrade in the second round of counselling.
Many students who appeared for the INI-CET, did not score good ranks in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2022 with the hope that they will get seats through the former exam, they said. “It is a competitive medical exam and it was hard to prepare for it. It will waste our one year of preparation and the chance to sit for it again also seems difficult,” said Sunita.
Students also said that they weren’t informed prior to the second round of counselling that a decision like this could be taken. “Some students left their seats as they hoped that they would get better ones in the open round. They told us after the final admission date (August 31) so we couldn’t do anything,” said Sarthak.
Not just junior doctors, but residents too demand that the open round of counselling be conducted. “If you take out healthcare workers from the system, then it could eventually collapse in times like the pandemic,” said Dr Suvrankar Datta, Chief Advisor of the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) and junior resident at AIIMS. He added that several seats are vacant at premier institutes and if no counselling is held, then they might not be able to cope with the patient load. “Open counselling must be conducted so that eligible candidates can join and quality healthcare can be provided to patients,” he added.
The road ahead
The counselling portal needs to be opened up again for students, said Sunita. “Even if one week or 10 days extension is given (if not one month) then that should be enough,” she said. They hope to file the plea by tomorrow, September 23 and list it for hearing on an urgent basis.
“Many of us sat for the exam and paid the fees only after seeing that four rounds of counselling are done. So counselling should resume as per the rules mentioned,” said Sarthak.
They have also launched a campaign on Twitter to draw attention to the issue. Associations like the FAIMA have come out in support of the students.