With the aim of regulating the profession of dentistry in India, provide quality and affordable dental education, and make high quality oral healthcare more accessible, the Union Government is planning to make the National Exit Test (NExT-Dental) mandatory for dental graduates (BDS) to grant licence to practise dentistry, and for admission to post-graduate dental courses.
The Union Government introduced the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023 in Parliament on July 24. It was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 28, and is awaiting approval of the Rajya Sabha.
In the Bill, the government proposes conducting a NExT (Dental) for BDS graduates.
According to the Bill, a common final-year undergraduate dental examination, to be known as the ‘National Exit Test (Dental)’ will be held for granting licence to practise dentistry and for enrolment in the ‘State Register or the National Register’. The National Dental Commission will conduct the NExT (Dental), which will become operational within three years of the date of commencement of the Act.
Any person with a foreign dental qualification will have to qualify NExT (Dental). The designated authority of the Union Government will conduct the common counselling for all-India seats, and the designated authority of the State Government will conduct the common counselling for seats at the State level.
As per the BIll, all admissions to undergraduate (UG) courses of Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course in all dental institutes will be through the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) conducted under Section 14 of the National Medical Commission Act 2019. Till the time NExT (Dental) becomes operational, all admissions to PG courses of Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) in all institutions will be through National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (PGNEET).
The National Dental Commission Bill, 2023 has proposed that the National Dental Commission (NDC) will replace the Dental Council of India (DCI), the apex dental education regulatory body in India.
It may be noted that the NExT for medical students in the final year (2019-20 batch) was deferred after opposition by students and parents.
Rajkumar, principal of Vokkaligara Sangha Dental College and Hospital, Bengaluru, said, “If you want to maintain quality of dental education, NExT is the best option. However, to avoid last minute confusion, the government should provide complete information and enough time for students before implementing it.”