IIT Bombay first to go virtual; Seeks donations to help needy students

Mumbai: In an attempt to ensure the safety of students amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) has decided to take its classes online this year, giving physical, on-campus attendance the bunk.

On Wednesday, Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay, posted on Facebook, "After a long deliberation in the Senate, we have decided that the next semester will be run purely in the online mode, so that there is no compromise on the safety and well-being of students."

With this decision, IIT Bombay becomes the first major educational institution in India to move entirely to online teaching-learning for the rest of this year. Chaudhuri said, "We took the first step in India to concretely decide how we must bring a closure to the current semester to help our students. The Covid pandemic has made us rethink the way we impart education to our students. To ensure that our students begin the academic year without further delay, we are planning on extensive online classes, details of which will be informed to all students in due course of time."

But a large section of its students are from economically less privileged families. To help these students with IT hardware such as laptops, computers, internet and broadband connectivity to access online classes, the institute has appealed for donations.

Chaudhuri added, "We have estimated that we need about Rs 5 crore to help needy students. Our alumni have committed a good amount of support, but that is not enough for all the needy students and I solicit through this message your donations, however small it may be. I am sure that these beneficiaries of your philanthropy will in future contribute significantly to the growth of our nation."

Students of IIT Bombay have mixed feelings on the decision to shift to online lectures completely. Nikhil Mehta, a student said, "I do not know how are we going to perform practical and lab tests via online lectures. I secured admission in IIT Bombay to gain practical knowledge and exposure, but I do not know how are we going to apply what we learn if there is no on-ground platform."

While Malika Rane, another student said, "Better to begin online classes rather than have no lectures at all due to the pandemic. It will ensure there is no gap in our academics, as there is no other alternative. Also, we are not allowed yet to return to the campus, so conducting physical lectures does not seem possible in the near future." Currently, around 11,000 students are pursuing various courses at IIT Bombay's residential campus, which has 17 hostels. Students were instructed to vacate hostels and leave the campus on March 18, 2020, in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

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