The Minister of State for Education, Subhas Sarkar, told the Lok Sabha today in a written reply that 13,626 students from Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Other Backward Class (OBC) had left central universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in the previous five years.
"In the Higher Education sector, students have multiple options and they choose to migrate across institutions and from one course/programme to another within the same institution," Sarkar said in response to a question in the Lok Sabha regarding whether the government has conducted any research to understand the causes behind the high dropout rates among OBC, SC, and ST students in these higher education institutions. If there is any migration or withdrawal, it is primarily due to the students being able to secure a seat in other departments or institutions of their choosing, or for other personal reasons.
According to data shared by Sarkar, in the last five years, 2,424 SC, 2,622 ST, and 4,596 OBC candidates had dropped out of Central Universities. During the same time span, 163 OBC, 188 SC, and 91 ST candidates left IIMs, whereas 2,066 OBC candidates, 1,068 SC, and 408 ST students left IITs.
Initiative by the institutions
Institutions have established structures like Equal Opportunity Cells, Student Grievance Committees, Student Grievance Cells, Students Social Clubs, Liaison Officers, and Liaison Committees, among others, to proactively address any issues that may arise for SC/ST students. Additionally, the minister mentioned that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has periodically released directives for encouraging fairness and unity among students.
Sarkar went on, "The government has taken various steps to help the students with poor financial backgrounds pursue their education. These steps include fee reduction, the establishment of more institutes, scholarships, and priority access to national level scholarships." He mentioned that there are other programs for the benefit of SC/ST students, such as "waiver of tuition fees in IITs," national scholarships awarded under the Central Sector Scheme, institute scholarships, etc.