As many as 13,626 Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), Other Backward Class (OBC) students have dropped out of central universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in the last five years, informed the Minister of State for Education Subhas Sarkar in a written reply to Lok Sabha.
These institutions have been called out by several student outfits for unabated casteist and Islamophobic atmosphere. This year, India has cancelled at least three scholarships supporting minority students pursuing pre-matric, MPhil and PhD degrees.
According to The Indian Express, Sarkar also said that 4,596 OBC candidates, 2,424 SC and 2,622 ST students have dropped out of the Central Universities in the past five years.
As many as 2,066 OBC candidates, 1,068 SC and 408 ST students dropped out of IITs and 163 OBC, 188 SC and 91 ST candidates have dropped out of IIMs in the same period.
Sarkar said: “In the Higher Education sector, students have multiple options and they choose to migrate across institutions and from one course/programme to another in the same institution. The migration/withdrawal if any, is mainly on account of securing seat by the students in other departments or institutions of their choice or on any personal ground.”
Dozens of students, particularly from marginal groups, have died by suicide in these institutions in the recent past, triggering outrage.
Despite students protesting against cutting scholarships, Sarkar claimed that the government has reduced the fee, established more institutes and prioritised access to national-level scholarships to help students from these communities pursue higher education.