With 43% undergraduate seats lying vacant in private dental colleges of Punjab even after four rounds of counselling, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, is now conducting the fifth round for admissions to the 2021-22 academic session.
The BFUHS on Tuesday started the second mop-up round to fill the vacant bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) seats by opening its portal for fresh registrations. A mop-up round is conducted if seats remain vacant after the second round of counselling. The varsity had concluded the counselling process after conducting a mop-up round on April 5 and a stray vacancy round on April 7.
Apart from Punjab, many other states in the country also failed to fill a large chunk of their BDS seats in private medical colleges this year. Following this, the Union ministry of health and family welfare had directed them to hold second mop-up and stray vacancy rounds, and also extended the last date of admission to BDS course to May 15.
The medical varsity said that the candidates who are not allotted or holding any seat in any previous rounds need not apply afresh, but just have to submit their willingness to take part in the counseling process. “The candidates who are registering for the first time or have surrendered the seat allotted in the first round (free exit) or the second round (exit with forfeiture of fee) need to apply afresh for the second mop-up round,” stated the notification, adding that the result will be declared on May 10. The BFUHS will also hold a second stray vacancy round if seats remain vacant after the mop-up round.
Of 1,240 BDS seats in 14 private colleges in Punjab, 549 were left vacant after the fourth round, highest in about a decade. Meanwhile, all 90 seats in government dental colleges at Amritsar and Patiala were filled.
According to data provided by the BFUHS, only four private colleges — Christian Dental College, Ludhiana (40); SGRD institute, Amritsar (60); Baba Jaswant Singh college, Ludhiana (100); and SKSS dental college, Ludhiana (40) — managed to fill all their BDS seats.
Meanwhile, eight colleges could not even fill 50% of the seats after four rounds, with Gian Sagar Dental College, Patiala — which was allowed an intake of 100 BDS seats after a gap of four years — filling just 16, lowest among all colleges.
Vacancies in BDS courses have been a matter of concern for years now. In 2014, 104 of the then 1,190 seats were left vacant, and the number surged to 540 the next year and remained high thereon. Even after lowering the qualifying cut-off percentile by 10 points for each category, the number of vacant BDS seats stood at 355 in the 2019-20 session, and jumped to 503 in 2021-22.
Experts attribute it to the lack of job opportunities and high costs involved in setting up one’s own practice after completing the BDS as compared to the MBBS. Migration after Class 12 is another major reason, as most students in Punjab prefer to move abroad if they fail to secure a seat in the pure medical stream, says BFUHS vice-chancellor Dr SS Gill. “With almost no placement opportunities for dentists, many medical students also prefer to pursue allied medical courses (such as ayurveda and physiotherapy) instead of BDS,” he says.
A varsity official said they are expecting a poor response to the mop-up round, as with the NEET 2022 just three months away, it is likely that many aspirants would prefer to reappear with the hope of getting an MBBS seat or a BDS seat in a government college.