About 2,000 students dropped out of IITs and IIMs in the last two years, data from the institutes show. Academic attrition is the highest at IIT-Delhi with 699 students dropping out between 2014 and 2016. It is followed by IIT-Kharagpur (544) and IIT-Bombay (143).
“Most of those who leave the course are those pursuing PhDs,” said IIT-Bombay director Devang Khakhar. PhD dropout numbers are not so much about performance as the punishing tenure of the course.
The number of dropouts at IIMs seems to have risen over the years. While 37 students dropped out between 2003 and 2005, the number rose to 69 between 2006 and 2008. It touched 104 between 2014 and 2016. “Poor academic performance is one of the reasons,” said an IIM-Calcutta faculty member. He said that once a candidate is in, she or he is on the same platform as everyone else.
The six-year-old IIM-Raipur saw the highest dropouts (20) in the last two years. To help students, IIM-A came up with a buddy programme, under which every new entrant is mentored by a second year student. It also conducted three-week orientation and coaching for weak students. Several IIMs have replicated the programme.
IIM Indore also has faculty mentors for academically weaker students. A faculty member said each IIT has a guidance and counselling unit, headed by a faculty member to “identify students facing emotional difficulties and guide them”.
A faculty member said it wasn’t just students from the reserved categories who found it difficult to cope. Former IIM-A director Bakul Dholakia had told earlier: “When students attend the tea party that the director hosts on Day One, it’s easy to identify the reserved category students. When they attend the graduation farewell dinner, we proudly say all the differences are erased.”