Higher studies and the marginalised | ST seats for Ph.D. programmes in IIT-Bombay remain unfilled

RTI data for 2015-2019 reveals poor acceptance rate for students from marginalised communities, with 25 of 26 departments not filling OBC, SC quotas either

Updated - November 28, 2021 02:24 pm IST

Published - February 14, 2021 08:15 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of IIT Bombay.

A view of IIT Bombay.

None of the 26 departments in IIT Bombay managed to fill seats reserved for Scheduled Tribe students in Ph.D. programmes between 2015 to 2019, according to data obtained through Right to Information queries.

The data obtained by the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle, a student collective in IIT Bombay, showed that 25 of the 26 departments failed to fill Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Scheduled Castes (SC) quota as well. Eleven of the 26 departments did not admit a single student under ST category in the period under question.


Of the 2,874 admissions for which data was provided by the institution, 71.6 % went to General Category (GC) students, which in terms of IITs predominantly constituted students from historically privileged communities; 19.2 % went to OBCs, 7.5 % to SCs and 1.6 % to STs. Reservation policy demands a minimum allocation of 27% to OBCs, 15% to SCs and 7.5% to STs.

Skewed entry

In 13 of the 26 departments, more than 75% of the seats went to students under GC.

The data showed the acceptance rate, which refers to the number of students selected for every 100 applicants, to be lower for students from reserved categories than those from GC. While the acceptance rate was 3.8% for GC, it was 3.1% for OBCs and STs and 2.5% for SCs.


In 16 of the 26 departments, this skew in acceptance rate was more pronounced with SC and ST students having acceptance rates at half or lower those for GC applicants.

For instance, Electrical Engineering (EE) and Mechanical Engineering (ME) departments had the highest number of ST applicants. While two of the 148 ST applicants got selected in EE with an acceptance rate of 1.4%, the acceptance rate was 3.8% for GC. In ME, not a single ST candidate from 110 applicants got selected whereas 168 students were selected from 4,590 applicants under GC with an acceptance rate of 3.7%.

In the Energy Sciences and Engineering department, only 5 of the 610 SC applicants got selected with an acceptance rate of 0.8%. In contrast 82 from 3,902 GC applicants got selected with an acceptance rate of 2.1%.

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Computer Science was one of the few departments that recorded dismal acceptance rates across OBC, SC and ST categories. Only five from 797 OBC applicants, four from 495 SC applicants and one from 78 ST applicants were selected with an acceptance rate of 0.6%, 0.8% and 1.3% respectively. In contrast 69 applicants from 2,997 GC applicants were selected with an acceptance rate of 2.3%.

The Centre for Studies in Resource Engineering (CSRE) and SJM School of Management (SJMSM) were the two departments that did not admit a single student from among SC and ST applicants. The two departments together selected 74 students from among 1,780 applicants under GC. However, none were selected from 313 SC and ST applicants.

Environment Science and Engineering (ESE) and Centre for Policy Studies were the only departments to fill seats reserved for OBC and SC students. ESE and Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) came closer to filling seats reserved for STs. HSS also had marginally better acceptance rate for OBC, SC and ST applicants.


The data also indicated that more students from marginalised communities were rejected at the interview stage.

A comparison of the proportion of students from different categories showed that their proportion remained fairly the same at the application stage and the interview stage. Overall, around 12% of applicants got rejected; the remaining 88% made it to the interview stage.

However, among those selected post the interviews, while the percentage of GC increased to 71.6%, the proportion of students from all other categories went down.

GC candidates accounted for 64.8%, OBCs 22.2%, SCs 11.1% and STs 1.9% in both application and interview stages. However, among those selected post the interviews, while the percentage of GC increased to 71.6%, the proportion of students from all other categories went down.

‘Fair selection’

In response to queries on the data, the IIT Bombay administration said that the selection process was fair and transparent.

“Lower cut-offs and extra efforts are made to take candidates as per reservation categories to fill the seats,” a spokesperson for the Institute said.

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On the acceptance rate being different, the spokesperson said, “IITs have very high expectations of our student input, which is needed to carry out research towards a Ph.D.”

“While we do get sufficient candidates in certain departments, in some other departments, students of the required calibre tend to take up industry jobs rather than join for a Ph.D which has extra uncertainties and lower income levels during Ph.D and in some areas even post Ph.D. It is possible that the family background and economic level may have an impact on such candidates applying for a Ph.D. This requires a proper socio-economic study,” the spokesperson added.

This is the concluding part of a three-part series. Read the part 1 and part 2 .

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