Why Over 13000 SC, ST & OBC Students Dropped Out Of IITs And IIMs?

The Minister of State for Education recently shared an alarming data: 13,000+ SC, ST, OBC students dropped out of central universities, IITs, and IIMs in 5 years. This begs the question: Why are students from marginalised communities facing such high dropout rates?

Ishika Thanvi
New Update

IIT Delhi Image Credits: The Print

The Minister of State for Education, Subhas Sarkar, recently revealed a concerning statistic—over 13,000 Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and 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 reported The Indian Express


These figures, shared in response to a Lok Sabha inquiry, beg the question: Why are students from marginalized communities facing such high dropout rates?

Government Initiatives: A Reality Check

Despite various governmental initiatives such as fee reductions, the establishment of more institutes, and scholarships prioritizing students with poor financial backgrounds, the dropout rates remain alarming. Minister Sarkar, in his response, attributes the withdrawal to students exercising their options across institutions and courses. However, the sheer number of dropouts raises concerns about the effectiveness of these initiatives in addressing the root causes.

Prominent educational institutions, such as IITs and IIMs, have come under scrutiny due to reports of pervasive casteism and discriminatory practices faced by students from marginalized communities. This issue has garnered attention as allegations suggest a prevalence of systemic biases within these elite campuses, raising concerns about the inclusivity and equitable treatment of all students.

It's crucial to acknowledge the root cause which is: caste discrimination. Students from marginalized communities often face subtle, yet pervasive biases that affect their academic journey. Caste-based stereotypes, discriminatory practices, and a lack of representation in decision-making processes contribute to an unwelcome atmosphere that hampers the educational aspirations of these students.

What Do The Numbers Tell?


Breaking down the numbers, Sarkar disclosed that 4,596 OBC candidates, 2,424 SC, and 2,622 ST students dropped out of Central Universities in the past five years. Additionally, 2,066 OBC candidates, 1,068 SC, and 408 ST students left IITs, while 163 OBC, 188 SC, and 91 ST candidates dropped out of IIMs during the same period. The disparities in these figures demand a deeper examination of the challenges faced by students from marginalized communities.

Persistent Challenges and Government Response

Sarkar reiterated the government's commitment to addressing the issue, highlighting ongoing efforts such as fee waivers in IITs and national scholarships for SC/ST students. Various mechanisms, including SC/ST students' cells, Equal Opportunity Cells, and grievance committees, have been established in institutions to proactively address issues faced by these students. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also issued instructions to promote equity and fraternity among students.

Creating a truly inclusive educational landscape involves cultivating cultures that actively discourage caste-based biases. Sensitizing faculty, staff, and students to the realities of urban casteism is paramount. Establishing anti-discrimination policies, coupled with regular training programs, can go a long way in dismantling the deeply entrenched biases that contribute to high dropout rates.

Beyond Statistics: A Call for Holistic Solutions

While the statistics shed light on the problem, there's a pressing need for holistic solutions. Holistic solutions must challenge the status quo by fostering an environment where diversity is not merely a checkbox but an intrinsic part of the institutional ethos. This necessitates a comprehensive review of curriculum design, teaching methodologies, and extracurricular activities to ensure they are inclusive and sensitive to diverse backgrounds.

Addressing urban casteism requires not only financial assistance but also a reevaluation of institutional cultures, ensuring that marginalized students feel supported, included, and encouraged to pursue their education without fear of discrimination. Collaborative efforts involving civil society, governmental bodies, and educational institutions can collectively work towards dismantling caste-based prejudices in society. Initiatives aimed at fostering awareness, promoting dialogue, and dismantling stereotypes can pave the way for a more inclusive future.  It involves not only addressing financial barriers but also dismantling discriminatory cultures, fostering inclusivity, and advocating for representation.

Marginalised Students IITs IIMs Student Dropouts