The National Board of Examinations (NBE) has debarred ten foreign medical graduates from appearing in any of its exams for allegedly hacking into its system to change their marks.
Indian students who study medicine abroad are required to pass the ‘Foreign Medical Graduate Examination’ to get a licence to practise in the country. “About a week ago, while making the certificates for students who appeared in the previous round of the examination, we came across a few anomalous certificates and were able to detect a breach in our systems. Prompt action was taken and the students were debarred for future tests. The checks and balances were in place because of which the hacking was detected. However, we are looking at the route used for hacking and will update our systems accordingly,” said NBE executive director Dr Pawanindra Lal. Police, CBI and cybercrime proceedings have also been initiated.
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Foreign medical graduates can take the examination as many times as they want. An estimated 2,000-3,000 Indian students go to countries like Russia, China, Nepal, Philippines, and other eastern European countries to study medicine and around 10,000 take the qualification exam that is conducted twice a year, as per government data. Around 20% pass the exam.
The ten graduates allegedly wanted to changed their marks for December 2019 round in which all of them had failed. Six of them had failed in the June 2020 round of the examination and the other four were absent for it. “Why should a candidate who has passed the test apply for it again? That raised our suspicion. From what we have learnt is that they were unable to get into the files of the current examination and hence changed the marks for the previous attempt,” said a staff member from NBE on condition of anonymity.
According to the staff member, one of the ten graduates first attempted the test in 2009. The candidate was then barred for a period of five years previously for using a cell phone to cheat in the examination.
“The reason for the high failure rate of the foreign medical graduates is that in these universities abroad, they do not get enough clinical experience. So even simple questions like where should one stand while examining a patient seems difficult. We always ensure that there are 30% easy, 30% moderate, and 30% difficult questions in the paper. The graduates need 50% to pass the test and there is no negative marking,” said Dr Lal.
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