Forget success stories of first generation learners in the top 10 rank lists. At this year’s first round of MBBS counselling, a whopping 519 students who got admitted to government medical colleges are the first in their families to aspire towards a graduate degree. In fact, the number of medical aspirants who hailed from homes where no one had been to high school or college was a staggering 10,629 of the 28,785 applications received. It is inspiring to see that many of them came alone, as their parents are employed as daily wagers in their respective towns, and collected their admit cards at the Kilpauk Medical College, during the MBBS counselling held recently.
A very small proportion of these 519 students hail from the city, with the majority of them hailing from smaller districts like Erode, Salem, Tuticorin and the educationally-reputed Namakkal. “Most often we have found that first generation graduates who manage a high cut off and manage to get MBBS admission are from very small villages or very poor backgrounds. Even economically downtrodden students in the cities - Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai - usually have at least one parent who has finished high school or some sort of degree,” said a member of the Medical Education Selection Committee.
This includes students like Keerthana, the daughter of a lorry terminal worker in Namakkal who had an enviable cut-off of 199.75 and managed to get admitted to Madras Medical College on the very first day. She had said after the counselling that her strength and determination to become a doctor came from the fact that people like her father had no hope of ever getting quality healthcare unless he waited for hours on end in a public hospital. Incidentally, her school has come forward to foot her educational expenses as far as college is concerned.
One advantage for first generation learners is that the tuition fees of Rs 4,000 out of the Rs 12,750 they have to pay every year, will be returned to them by the government.
While this applies only for those admitted to state-run hospitals, those getting admitted to self-financed medical colleges also have a great advantage to help them study - with official fee structures ranging from Rs 2.3- Rs 2.5 lakh a year, the government will bear half the amount and first generation learners need to pay only half their fees.