Mumbai: In an unprecedented move, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has decided to amend its first-year curriculum to ensure that new students are not succumbing to stress, uncertainty, and the pressure of academics even after getting into the institute.
For the new entrants of 2023, IIT-B will do away with the option of ‘branch change’. This option allowed students to change their engineering core at the end of the first year on the basis of merit. The IIT will also merge a few half-semester courses into a full-semester course to provide a longer period of time to understand the subject.
In its 256th senate meeting held on May 12, 2023, IIT Bombay accepted these changes that were a part of the recommendations put forth by the 8-member committee headed by Prof. Kishore Chatterjee, alongside Prof Sundar Vishwanathan as the co-convener.
“Next year onwards, the first-year students will only have to earn 33 credits in each semester down from the 39 credits they had to score previously. It would be up to the departments to decide which one subject will be omitted in the first year since the students will continue the field they have enrolled in and will not be permitted branch change,” said Prof Kishore Chatterjee while talking to The Free Press Journal.
As per an official statement from the IIT, these decisions were made based on the observation that the pressure to get higher grades to earn a branch change was causing stress on many students, while only a few benefited from the change of branch. The institute, however, plans to correspondingly increase the number of seats at the time of admission by a small number in some of the popular branches.
The number of seats in a course will be increased to match its student strength in the second year. “If, for example, Computer Science Engineering has 180 seats in the first year seats and 200 in the second, then the IIT will roughly add 20 more seats to the course at the time of new admissions,” said sources from IIT-B.
Apart from these changes, the professors are to also keep a close eye on attendance in lectures henceforth to ensure that all students are engaging in academic activities at the IIT. Attendance will not necessarily affect the grades of the students.
The FPJ learned that the Chatterjee committee had also floated other suggestions which were not accepted by the IIT senate. One of these was to replace the current grading framework for the first years with a ‘pass or no pass’ system, vastly followed by American varsities. This new academic system for the first years is to be implemented for the upcoming batch and will be reviewed next year to assess the benefits students availed from it.
The committee to amend IIT Bombay’s first-year curriculum was formed on March 1, 2023, after the unfortunate demise of Darshan Solanki on IIT’s Powai-based campus. As per the institute’s investigation committee, the student's death was caused by academic pressures he could not handle.