This could be the last year that agricultural course aspirants can obtain a seat based on their Class XII marks.
Academicians on Sunday said the Centre plans to make the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET), the test for admission to MBBS, mandatory for agricultural course seats from 2019.
In 2018, the Centre has included veterinary sciences along with medical and dental courses. Engineering courses will remain outside the purview of NEET in 2018, confirmed higher education minister K P Anbalagan.
Vice-chancellor of Tamil Agricultural University K Ramasamy said 13 agricultural courses were considered professional. In Tamil Nadu, there are 14 constituent colleges and 24 affiliated colleges that offer agricultural courses. Currently, a common entrance test is conducted by the Centre for 15% of the seats in all colleges.
Unlike the Medical Council of India (MCI), which is a statutory body, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) it can only propose, sources said. Parliament has to decide on this which is unlikely to happen this year.
Of the 3,080 seats in Tamil Nadu in 2017, 1,220 were in constituent colleges and 1,860 in affiliated colleges. The number of seats was increased from 2,820 in 2016 to 3,080 in 2017 after 21 private colleges applied for more seat allotments.
“The standing committee inspected these colleges and based on its report, the number of seats was increased,” he said. The number of seats is all set to increase as many colleges have applied for affiliation this year too.
According to academicians, mandating NEET for agricultural courses has come as a cultural shock to parents and students of the state.
Rural students will be among the most affected as many rushed for seats in agricultural courses last year after NEET became mandatory for MBBS.