NExT 2023: In a recent communication to all stakeholders, the apex medical education regulator announced the deferment of the National Exit Test (NExT) for the current final year MBBS batch. The NExT 2023, which was mandated under the National Medical Commission Act (2019), was intended to replace the traditional MBBS final exam and serve as a comprehensive licentiate exam for granting registration to practice medicine.
Additionally, NExT 2023 was also designed to be the basis for entrance into postgraduate courses, replacing the NEET PG test. However, the test has been deferred until further directions on the advice of the health ministry. This decision will have significant implications for medical education in India, leaving students and institutions uncertain about the future evaluation and admission processes.
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NExT 2023 examinations deferred: Sequence of events
The government of India had placed NMC Act 2019 and introduced the NExT examinations which will be the exit examinations as well entrance-level tests for Post Graduation courses. The sequence of events in this whole drama is listed below:
- NMC Act (2019) passed: Key points regarding NExT examinations were laid down. They are given below:
- A common final-year undergraduate medical examination, called the National Exit Test, will be conducted to grant licenses to practice medicine and enrol in the State or National Register.
- The NMC will oversee the administration of the NExT through a designated authority, following specified regulations.
- The NExT will become operational within three years from the commencement of the Act, as determined by the Central Government through a notification.
- Individuals with foreign medical qualifications must pass the NExT to obtain a license to practice medicine and enrol in the State or National Register, as per the regulations.
- The NExT will serve as the basis for admission to postgraduate broad-speciality medical education in institutions governed by the Act or other applicable laws.
- The Commission will specify regulations for conducting common counselling by the designated authority for admission to postgraduate broad-speciality seats.
- The Central Government’s designated authority will handle common counselling for All India seats, while the State Government’s designated authority will handle it for State-level seats.
- NExT 2023 regulation draft: On 28 December 2022, NMC prescribed stakeholders to act on the regulation draft which will be used to prepare rules and format for the commencement of the NExT 2023 examinations. The objective of these rules is to bring in uniformity in the summative evaluation across the country with reference to the minimum common standards of education and training of a medical graduate. The objective of these rules is to bring in uniformity in the summative evaluation across the country with reference to the minimum common standards of education and training of a medical graduate.
- NExT examinations rules will be laid on June, 2023: The NMC’s academic cell on the last week of May 2023, wrote to medical institutions to know the status regarding completion of the current batches of final MBBS courses to help finalise the dates for conducting the test. The NMC, an Indian regulatory body of 33 members, had directed the medical colleges to intimidate the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) course completion date in order to finalise the National Exit Test (NExT 2023) examination date. The exam format was formulated by then.
- Basic rules regarding NExT 2023 examination: NMC, on June 27th, conducted a webinar on NExT 2023 with all medical colleges. As per the webinar, batch of 2019 will be the first batch to appear for NExT! AIIMS Delhi will be the conducting body for the NExT Step 1 examination, which will be conducted twice a year, in May and November.
- Mock examinations: A decision was taken to conduct mock exams. The practice NExT exam will be held on July 28, 2023. To sign up for the exam, General/ OBC candidates have to pay a registration fee of Rs 2,000, while SC, ST, and EWS candidates need to pay Rs 1,000. However, persons with benchmark disabilities (PwBD) do not have to pay any exam fee.
The decision regarding the mock test made it clear that the NExT exams would happen as proposed by NMC in 2024. But the latest deferment notice has now created confusion among students.
Protests for NExT 2023: Why are exams deferred?
The announcement of the NExT 2023 examination taking place in May 2024 has sparked widespread protests among students in various regions, including Himachal Pradesh and Orissa. There have been Twitter storms and intense protests. The key concerns of the students which led to the deferment are laid below:
- Students in various regions, including Himachal Pradesh and Orissa, have expressed concerns and protested against the announcement of the NExT 2023 examination taking place in May 2024.
- The main concern is the short notice and lack of clarity on the exam schedule, even at present.
- The students argue that they have only 10 months to prepare for the exam, which is said to cover all 19 papers of the MBBS course, making it a vast syllabus to cover in a short time.
- Students are primarily focused on the theory aspects of the exam and are worried about the feasibility of completing such a comprehensive syllabus within the given timeframe.
- The students are also outraged over the registration fee of Rs 2000 imposed by the NMC for mock exams conducted for final-year medical students.
- The All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) has organized a week-long demonstration from July 1 to July 7 against the examination, expressing their opposition to the commercialization and privatization of medical education.
- Approximately 70 MBBS students from the 2019 batch participated in the protest and have sent a letter to Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, highlighting their concerns regarding the test.
In a sequence of events, various decisions have been seen as strongly imposed by the Govt. upon the students. Not only in this scenario but in various issues, the discussion platform has not been provided, the experts point out towards the Authority. The decision should have provided a formidable window so that students could cope with the new pattern. Though the decision has been stalled, for now, the critics are seeking clarifications.
|NMC Act, 2019
|NMC regulation notice (December 2022)
|NMC Deferment notice (July 2023)
|Official Website of NMC
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