With 43% of undergraduate places vacant in private dental colleges in Punjab even after four counseling cycles, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, is currently holding the fifth round of admission to the academic session 2021-22.

The BFUHS kicked off the second round of cleaning to fill vacant Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) seats on Tuesday by opening its portal for new registrations. A raking round is organized if seats remain vacant after the second round of council. The university had concluded the council process after conducting a clean-up round on April 5 and a wandering vacancy round on April 7.

Apart from Punjab, many other states in the country have also failed to fill a large portion of their BDS seats in private medical colleges this year. Following this, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had ordered them to hold a second round of cleaning and vacancies, and also extended the last date of admission to the BDS course until to May 15.

The medical university said applicants who are not awarded or hold no seats in previous rounds do not need to reapply, but simply submit their willingness to participate in the counseling process. “Candidates who are registering for the first time or who have renounced the seat allocated in the first round (free exit) or the second round (exit with disqualification) must reapply for the second round of raking”, a declared the notification, adding that the result will be announced on May 10. The BFUHS will also hold a second misplaced vacancy round if seats remain vacant after the sweepstakes round.

Status check

Out of 1,240 BDS seats in 14 private colleges in Punjab, 549 remained vacant after the fourth round, the highest in about a decade. Meanwhile, all 90 seats in the government dental colleges in Amritsar and Patiala have been filled.

According to data provided by 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 of 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 cleared for 100 BDS seats after a four-year gap – filling just 16, the lowest among all colleges.

Vacancies in BDS courses have been a concern for years. In 2014, 104 of the then 1,190 seats remained vacant, and the number rose to 540 the following year and remained high. Even after lowering the qualifying limit percentile by 10 points for each category, the number of vacant BDS seats stood at 355 in the 2019-20 session and increased to 503 in 2021-22.

Experts attribute it to lack of job opportunities and high costs of setting up your own practice after completing BDS compared to MBBS. Migration after Class 12 is another major reason as most Punjab students prefer to move abroad if they fail to secure a place in the pure medical stream, says BFUHS Vice Chancellor, the Dr SS Gill. “With almost no placement opportunities for dentists, many medical students also prefer to take allied medicine courses (such as Ayurveda and physiotherapy) instead of BDS,” he says.

A university official said they expected a poor response to the cleaning round because with the NEET 2022 just three months away, it is likely that many aspirants would prefer to reappear in hopes of securing an MBBS seat or a BDS seat in a government college.


    Parteek Singh Mahal is a multimedia correspondent based in Faridkot, Punjab. It covers medical education, politics and policing of Punjab.
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