Due to hefty fee for management quota seats, the dental colleges in Punjab have been facing the same uncertainty as that faced by medical colleges earlier. As many as 406 management quota and 49 government quota seats have remained unfilled after the final counselling for the BDS course recently.
The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, had conducted the exercise to fill the total 1,250 BDS seats in 15 dental colleges of Punjab. Only five colleges could manage to fill all their seats.
In some dental colleges, over 60 per cent of the seats have remained vacant.
At Desh Bhagat Dental College in Muktsar, 82 seats lie unfilled whereas the count is 63 (out of 100) at Sukhmani Dental College, Dera Bassi.
Forty-one MBBS seats of the management quota had earlier remained vacant due to high fee.
If the entire four-year BDS course in private colleges under government and management quota would cost Rs 6 lakh last year, its fee was increased to Rs 7.65 lakh for government and Rs 10.21 lakh for management quota this year. In comparison, the full-course fee in the two government dental colleges at Amritsar and Patiala is just Rs 1.07 lakh.
The Punjab Government had even conducted a special entrance test last month to fill all the BDS seats.
The test was conducted after the All-India Pre-Medical Entrance Test failed to provide sufficient number of eligible candidates for the BDS seats.
The entrance was conducted in May and a candidate who got minimum 50 per cent in the test was eligible for admission.
The special test was conducted following pressure from private dental colleges, but it failed to serve any purpose.
As many as 1,130 students had cleared this special test. But about 400 of these eligible candidates did not opt for the BDS seat due to the hefty fee, said Dr Sanjiv Sethi, a member of the Association of Parents of Medical Aspirants in Punjab.
Dr Randeep Singh Mann, Punjab Dental Council president and a member of the Dental Council of India, however, blamed the high number of dental colleges in the state for the seats remaining vacant.
Not only Punjab, the problem is prevailing across the country. India has 312 dental colleges, which produce over 20,000 dentists every year. However, not all these doctors are absorbed and, as such, lesser students are opting for BDS, said Dr Mann.
The Dental Council of India had now decided not to allow opening of more private colleges in the country, he said.
The demand for BDS doctors in government hospitals and dispensaries in Punjab was almost 5 per cent in comparison to MBBS, said Dr Sethi.
While every civil hospital had a minimum 20 MBBS doctors, there was demand for only one dentist, he said.