Kerala BSc nursing: State says merit, nursing council says entrance exam; students in a flux

Industry officials have warned that students who do not adhere to the INC's directives may encounter registration issues
Here are the details | (Pic: EdexLive)
Here are the details | (Pic: EdexLive)

A recent directive by the Indian Nursing Council (INC) stating that all students enrolling in the BSc Nursing course for the 2022-23 academic year must qualify in entrance exams will have an adverse impact on the aspirations of nursing students from Kerala, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express.

According to the notification issued in April 2023, students seeking admission to the BSc Nursing programme in the 2022-2023 academic year will only be admitted if they pass the entrance examination conducted by the state government, university or state common entrance cell. Industry officials believe that this new rule will particularly affect students from middle and lower-middle class families.

The Kerala government has yet to decide on the conduct of entrance exams for the BSc Nursing course, as required by the INC. This decision has also made it challenging for students planning to pursue BSc in Nursing in neighbouring states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These states have opted to admit students based on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test  (NEET) scores or their own entrance exams.

Industry officials have warned that students who do not adhere to the INC's directives may encounter registration issues. Poly Thomas, the father of an aspiring nursing student from Alappuzha, expressed concern over the confusing situation. He mentioned that even though the Kerala government is yet to decide on the entrance examination, students aspiring to study in nursing colleges in neighbouring states are also facing uncertainty.

Prior to the notification, nursing colleges outside Kerala believed they could admit students who had appeared for the NEET exam. However, they are now stating that the INC requires candidates to pass NEET, according to Poly.

Disparity in the admission process
Another challenge faced by these students is the disparity in the admission process among neighbouring states. Karnataka has already conducted the common entrance examination, while Andhra Pradesh has chosen NEET eligibility. The principal of a nursing college in Andhra Pradesh, speaking anonymously, mentioned that they received numerous applications from Kerala candidates, but only four qualified for admission under the new directive. Karnataka has started admitting students based on rankings in the common entrance test.

Concerned parents have expressed frustration, stating that their children are unable to seek admission in neighbouring states or feel confident about studying in Kerala. They question whether joining the course will ensure their children's safety and guarantee INC registration, which is required for jobs abroad. Nursing has been a profession that has supported many families in the state, and parents are worried about the impact of these changes.

Health Minister says...
When contacted, Health Minister Veena George told The New Indian Express that the state government has presented its position to the INC. She mentioned that not only Kerala but also Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have made their cases before the INC. The admissions in Kerala will be based on the marks obtained by students in their Plus Two examinations.

Minister Veena expressed concern that when considering NEET scores, students from financially disadvantaged families who were unable to afford coaching may face disadvantages. She emphasised the need to address this issue and ensure a fair process for all aspiring nursing students.

The new rules set by the INC, in summary, state that students pursuing the BSc Nursing course must pass the entrance examination conducted by the state government, university, or state common entrance cell for the 2022-2023 academic year. Failure to comply with the combined admission test or admission guidelines prescribed by the council may result in problems with reciprocal registration for students.

What INC's new rules say
A notification dated April 2023 states that all students of the BSc Nursing programme for the academic year 2022-2023 will be admitted only if they meet the qualification criteria of an entrance examination conducted by the state government, university or the state common entrance cell.

Students who are currently pursuing the BSc Nursing course without having passed or appeared in the combined admission test conducted for course admission, or without following the admission guidelines prescribed by the council, may encounter difficulties in obtaining reciprocal registration.

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