The IITs, faced with a rise in student suicides, are considering an exit option with a diploma after two years for BTech students unable to cope with the academic pressure.
Institute officials said some of the tech schools had suggested that the IIT Council, the top decision-making body, discuss the proposal. The council might meet early next year, they added.
In 2019, the council had decided to allow an exit option after three years for educationally backward students. Instead of being forced out of the four-year BTech course, they were to be allowed to opt for a BSc (Engineering) degree after the second semester, and graduate after six semesters if they met the required standards.
The implementation of the decision was left to the IITs, which have introduced the option from the current year.
Now, some of the IITs also want a diploma option at the end of the fourth semester, officials said.
The discovery of a third-year BTech student’s body in his hostel room at IIT Kharagpur in October has caused a furore, with his parents lodging a police case. Last week, the education ministry sought a detailed report from IIT Kharagpur.
In September, a final-year BTech student at IIT Guwahati, a fourth-year student at IIT Madras and a PhD student at IIT Kanpur were found dead. All the deaths were attributed to academic pressure.
In January, a postgraduate student at IIT Bombay jumped to his death from the hostel terrace. An MTech student of IIT Hyderabad hanged himself on August 31, apparently overwhelmed by his academic backlog.
An IIT Kanpur faculty member said that academic stress and failed love affairs were the two biggest reasons that drove students to suicide.
“The students have to do classes, a lot of assignments and quizzes; they have to appear in tests and so on. Many fail to cope,” he said.
“There are counsellors to help them, but many students do not share their problems. Some take recourse to online games and some end up taking drugs. These habits add to the strain. The suicides relate to these types of students.”
The faculty member said the provision of BSc (Engineering) and the proposal for a Diploma (Engineering) may be able to address the issue of academic stress to a great extent.
A former IIT teacher said that parental expectations often add to the pressure, and that the teachers’ workload often prevents them from paying attention to the students and their problems individually.