40% belong to SC/ST communities; 88% of IIT Guwahati dropouts, 76% of IIT Delhi from reserved categories.
Almost 63% of the undergraduate dropouts at the top seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) over the last five years are from the reserved categories, according to Education Ministry data given in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha today. Almost 40% were from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities. In some institutions, the SC/ST share was as high as 72%.
This indicates that those who drop out of these elite programmes disproportionately belong to the disadvantaged groups, given that only half the undergraduate intake in the IITs are from reserved categories, while about 23% are from the SC/ST communities. Dalit and Adivasi activists have long argued that students from those communities face a higher level of pressure and discrimination at these prestigious institutions.
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However, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Rajya Sabha that the dropouts were “mainly on account of securing seat in other departments or institutions of students choice or on any other personal ground”.
Kerala MP’s query
He was responding to a question from Kerala MP V. Sivadasan regarding undergraduate dropouts at all centrally-funded technical institutions, the variance seen across social categories and the measures taken to address it. The Minister listed “fee reductions, institute scholarships, priority access to national level scholarships to aid students with poor financial backgrounds to pursue their education” among the steps taken to prevent dropouts.
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An analysis of the seven IITs that stand in the top 10 of the National Institute Ranking framework shows that the disproportionality of dropouts is starker at some institutions. IIT Guwahati holds the worst record, with 88% of its 25 dropouts hailing from the reserved categories. In fact, almost three-fourths of all dropouts are from the SC/ST communities, although they make up less than a quarter of the students.
Of the 10 students who dropped out of IIT Delhi in 2018, all were from the reserved categories, a trend that holds true for every year except 2019. More than half of all the dropouts in IIT Delhi are from the SC/ST communities and 76% of its dropouts are from the reserved categories.
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Top ranked IIT Madras has only had 10 dropouts over the last five years, but six of them have been SC/ST students, while another was from an Other Backward Class community. Overall, 70% of the institution’s dropouts were from the reserved categories
IIT Kharagpur has had the highest number of dropouts, with a whopping 79 students leaving the institution over the last five years. More than 60% are from the reserved categories.
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IIT Bombay had the best record, with reserved category dropouts in proportion with their share of the total student intake, although SC/ST students fared worse.