Premier government institute, the Indian Institute of Technology, is trying hard to increase gender diversity among its students. In a recent development, at least five branches of the institute are considering waiving the fee of women students to improve the gender ratio.
Earlier this week, IIT Mandi went ahead with the decision of waiving the entire fee of women students. In addition, they also approved a monthly scholarship of Rs 1,000 for all women students who are joining the college from the upcoming semester. The institute has claimed that the existing students will also come under the scheme, but only if they pass the semester.
“Almost all our existing 30 women students in the BTech programme qualify for the fee waiver and scholarship this year, starting from this semester,” IIT Mandi director Timothy A Gonsalves told Economic Times.
Currently, IIT Mandi has about 500 students, out of which 30 are women. All IITs collectively have 10,500 seats, of which in 2016, women qualified for 2,200. However, only 830 women actually entered the colleges.
In fact, IIT Delhi conducted a study which showed that women outperform men by at least one grade point on an average. This research comes after women having lower JEE/JEE (Advanced) ranks in till 2015. And this has been a consistent result.
“It is the Indian mindset to invest heavily on sons’ education. Women do not get a level playing field when it comes to coaching and even funding for engineering at IITs,” said Ravinder Kaur, an IIT Delhi faculty member who was part of the study.
Normally, the fee for general category undergraduate students is about Rs 1 lakh per semester or Rs 8-10 lakh for the entire programme. And IITs at Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai and Ropar are also in favour of this decision of fee waiver for women students.
“We will be looking at waiving the fee for female candidates from next year,” IIT Ropar director Sarit K Das told ET. Das added that improving diversity is an urgent task.
The IIT Council conducted a meeting last month where fee exemption and scholarships for women students above a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) threshold was discussed. Other suggestions that were floated out in the meeting were creating a limited number of supernumerary seats for women in each IIT for a limited time until the number in the BTech programme reaches 20% of the sanctioned strength in each school. These seats will only be reserved for women candidates who have qualified through JEE (Advanced).
“This recommendation has been accepted in principle but the financial and legal viability of this recommendation is currently being looked into,” an IIT Council member said.
Picture credit- GetMyUni