Counselling students with low grade, reducing curriculum: IITs step up measures to check suicides

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New Delhi: Rattled by the suicide of an IIT-Bombay student, several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are taking preventive measures such as counselling and mentorship for students with low grades and backlogs, reducing the curriculum load and setting up mental-wellness centres.

Suicide by an IIT Bombay student recently amid allegations of caste discrimination has brought the limelight back on the rigorous curriculum and competition at the prestigious institutes.

IIT Bombay Director Subhasis Chaudhuri has announced that the institute is working towards changes in their undergraduate curriculum to make it "more relevant and motivating to students, and to reduce some of the stress".

"We are working actively to create an inclusive campus where all students feel at home," Chaudhari said.

The parliamentary standing committee for the welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/ST) has called a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the recent suicide by 18-year-old Darshan Solanki at IIT-Bombay.

At IIT Guwahati, over the years several steps have been taken by the Center for Holistic Wellbeing to promote the overall wellbeing of the students on campus and help mitigate the gap between the stigma attached to counselling and accessing mental health care.

"The details of students with low CPIs (Cumulative Performance Index) and backloggers are shared by academic section with the Deans and the Chairperson of Welfare Board. The faculty advisors and counsellors are accordingly asked to get in touch with each student to understand their mental state and the reason for low performance.

"Accordingly, steps are taken up to support and mentor them either by the counsellors or faculty advisors depending upon the reason of low performance," said Bithiah Grace Jaganathan, Associate Dean, Students' Affairs, IIT Guwahati.

Concerned by the cases of suicide by IIT students, IIT-Delhi had, before the COVID-19 closure, revamped its curriculum to help students tackle study pressure effectively and keep such suicidal tendency at bay. The institute is in process of further revising its curriculum.

According to the Ministry of Education data, the IITs recorded 34 suicides between 2014-2021 -- 18 of the students were from SC and OBC communities.

The ministry had asked all IITs in a Council meeting in 2010 to open wellness centres and seek the services of professional counsellors on a mandatory basis. PTI

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