Dazzling smiles don't make for dazzling careers anymore.
If the statistics provided by the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) are anything to go by, the demand for dental courses in the state is going down with each passing year. Put in plain numbers, as many as 798 dental seats were offered last year, and of them, only a paltry 211 were taken up. In 2008-2009, of the 840 seats, 566 remained vacant. The number of colleges offering dental courses has also come down to 37 from 40, this year.
But the craze for medical courses remains. On Tuesday, 21st June the second day of Common Entrance Test (CET) counseling and seat selection sessions for admission to under-graduate medical courses, most of the medical seats were filled.
Just 77 were left for the third day of counseling that is Wednesday, 22nd June.
In total, as many as 1,276 medical seats were on the offer in the state. On Monday, 20th June when the counseling started at seven centers across the state, 882 seats were allotted. On Tuesday, 21 June 2011, 317 seats were filled.
But there were minimal takers for dental courses. Of the 755 dental seats offered, only 253 seats were filled-502 fell vacant and would be available for Wednesday. Candidates from rank 3801 to 6000 will be eligible to choose from the medical and the dental seats left out. KEA, that oversees the test and counseling process, deemed 12,537 CET students eligible to take up medical and dental courses this year. But most of them prefer just the medical stream.
On Monday, 20th June, 33 students opted for dental courses when those from rank 1 to 1,500 were invited. But about 800 medical seats were filled on the same day.
Dentistry is losing its sheen, while the experts and dental college managements are blaming the Dental Council of India (DCI) for the decline in interest.
"Two years ago, the DCI increased the course duration for dental courses from four to five years. This hit the admissions hard," said a principal of one of the private dental colleges in the city.
"When Dr. Anil Kohli was the chairman of DCI, he had changed the rules and increased the course duration to five years. We used to struggle to get students even when the course was offered for four years," he said.
Dr. S. Kumar, executive secretary of COMED-K who is also the principal of M.S.Ramaiah Medical College, said: "Job prospects for dental graduates are not that promising. They are left to choose between private clinics and teaching professions. To set up an own clinic, the investment needed is huge. Dental equipment are costly and that's why there are just a few takers."
"Even the state government doesn't care to hike the number of dentists in government hospitals. If that is done, we can note an increase in intake. Corporate hospitals, too, should open up opportunities for dental graduates," Kumar added.
Experts also complain that many dental colleges fail to provide quality teaching. "The DCI should look at improving the quality of dental colleges and it is better to shut down colleges that are not maintaining standards," said an expert who is also a member with the COMED-K.
Courtesy: DNA India