Over the past five years, the annual rate of doctoral applications accepted by IITs has remained largely the same across all social categories, but the pool of aspirants, including applicants from disadvantaged communities, has increased somewhat, according to data presented by the Center to Parliament.
Between 2017-18 and 2021-22, annual applications from Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates to pursue PhD programs at the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology increased from 12,476 to 17,814 and from 2,132 to 3,461 among students from Scheduled Tribes (ST) .
The respective increase for applicants from OBC communities was from 27,734 to 40,418, and those from the general category from 68,663 to 74,343.
The Ministry of Education shared the figures to Rajya Sabha on July 20 in response to a question from CPI(M) member V Sivadasan.
During this period, the acceptance rate, ie the percentage of applications accepted out of the total number of applications received, however, did not show any major change. In the case of students from SC, the acceptance rate was 3.4% in 2017-18 and 3.2% in 2021-22; 4.4% and 4.01% for those from ST communities; 4.2% and 3.3% for OBCs; 4.5% and 4.5% for applicants in the general category.
Overall, the period between 2017-18 and 2021-22 saw 17,044 doctoral applications accepted by IITs, in which the share of students in SC, ST, OBC and general category was 9, 3%, 2.2% and 23.3% and 61.6%, respectively.
The Central Educational Institutions (Admission Reservation) Act 2006 imposes a quota of 15%, 7.5% and 27% for SC, ST and OBC students, respectively, on the authorized annual enrollment in each branch of study or faculty. But many IITs argue that since there is no fixed annual sanctioned admission for doctoral programs in their institutes, they technically cannot follow the reservation policy.
Another written response from the Ministry of Lok Sabha, responding to a question from CPI(M) member S Venkatesan on July 18, shows that in some IITs the bias against disadvantaged groups was deeper than the overall average in 2021. By For example, at IIT Bhilai, out of 207 applications from candidates from SC, none were accepted in 2021, while only one each was accepted at IIT Dharwad and Tirupati.
Moreover, last year at IITs in Mandi, Bhilai, Goa and Tirupati, none of the 140, 30 and 93 ST candidates, respectively, were selected. Among others, IIT Jodhpur and IIT Bhubaneswar accepted one candidate out of 107 and 149 ST respectively.