Out of 2,461 students who dropped out from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the last two years, 371 students were from the Scheduled Caste (SC), 199 from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 601 from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), informed the Human Resource Development Minister, Ramesh Pokriyal Nishank, in a written reply to the Parliament. In case of Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), out of 99 students who dropped out, 14 were from SC, 21 from ST and 27 from OBC category, as per the official HRD data.
This implies that nearly 48 per cent of students dropping out of the IITs and over 62.6 per cent from IIMs are from the reserved category. The percentage of dropouts for SC/ ST and OBC candidates is equal or more than that of unreserved category, while their number of admissions is below unreserved category candidates, raising concerns.
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While this can hint at discrimination against these candidates, there are also questions against a caste-based reservation system that allows reserved category candidates with lower marks to take admission in an institute.
In terms of IITs, the maximum dropouts happen in IIT-Delhi where a total of 782 candidates dropped out in the past two years, of which 111 were SC, 84 ST and 161 were OBC candidates. Among IIMs, most dropouts were seen in IIM Indore, where a total of 17 students dropped out in past two years, of which 9 were from reserved category. IIM-I was followed by IIM-Kashipuram where all 13 dropouts were from the reserved category (11 were OBC candidates and 2 ST category candidates).
The reserved category candidates have a lower cut-off criterion in the entrance exam, but once in college, the passing marks are the same for all. This makes experts wonder if students are unable to deal with pressure over their performance. Academic stress was cited as one of the reasons for dropouts, by the HRD.
Himanshu Rai, director, IIM Indore, did not rule out the possibility, but added that since the general category candidates drop out too, the difference in cut-offs gets mitigated during the programme. “The reasons for dropouts are many, including distractions for those who live alone for the first time, disinterest in the programme and high academic standards,” remarked Rai, adding, “Since IIM-I enrolls maximum students, it is natural that dropouts will also be among the highest.”
Rai informed that IIM-I has been providing induction classes for students who did not score well in a particular section of CAT and will now also provide extra tutorials and faculty mentoring to bridge the gap.
The IIT-Delhi official informed indianexpress.com that dropouts in case of IITs are majorly from postgraduate classes, due to students preferring lucrative jobs or academia. “After GATE results are declared, those who receive admission in a foreign university or have a PSU job offer, tend to leave their M.Tech seat at IIT. This is a major cause of dropouts,” said the official.
The HRD minister, however, also cited personal or medical issues, placement during courses and pursuing higher education abroad among other reasons behind dropouts for PG courses.
The minister, in his written reply to the Parliament, also suggested the institutes take various corrective measures including appointment of advisors to monitor the academic progress of students, provision of additional classes for academically weaker students, peer-assisted learning, counselling on family and personal issues, psychological motivation, appointment of liaison officers, internal complaints committee and extracurricular activities to de-stress students.