IIT Delhi Drops Mid-Sem Exams to Ease Student Stress, Says Director

 The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) has revamped its evaluation system and dropped a set of mid-semester exams to reduce students’ stress, according to institute director Rangan Banerjee1. The decision comes in the wake of several cases of student suicides across IITs, which have raised concerns about the impact of the curriculum and the study schedule on the mental health of students.

Banerjee told PTI in an interview that the institute conducted an internal survey and based on feedback from all students and faculty, decided to drop one set of exams.  He said, “Earlier we used to have two sets of exams during a semester, final exams at the end of each semester and several continuous evaluation mechanisms. So, now there will be two sets of exams besides routine evaluations. 

He added that the new evaluation system will focus more on continuous assessment and projects, rather than a heavy emphasis on exams. He also said that the decision has been approved by the Senate and will be implemented from the ongoing semester. A maximum cap of 80 per cent weightage has been kept for the two examinations.

The IIT Council, in its meeting in April, decided that there is a need for a robust grievance redressal system; increasing psychological counselling services; reducing pressure, fear of failure and rejection among students. The issue of student suicide, alleged discrimination, and ensuring the mental well-being of students was discussed at length during the meeting.

According to data shared in Parliament last month, IITs have reported the highest number of student suicide cases in the last five years. From 2018 to 2023, at least 39 out of the total 98 deaths by suicide in top higher education institutions of India took place at IITs.

Banerjee said that in addition to existing mechanisms to deal with stress and ensure mental well-being among the students, IIT Delhi is pushing to strengthen some mentorship and interactive verticals, especially to encourage interactions with students outside the classrooms, preferably at an individual level. He said, “We are also increasing the frequency of ‘open house’ interactions with students besides the frequency of periodic informal dinners or meals between students and faculty in small groups through the existing Student-Teacher Interaction Council.”

The institute is also facilitating faculty-student interactions via academic-domain-independent and academic-domain-dependent faculty mentorships. Banerjee said that students in IITs come through an extremely competitive process and have to cope with failure. He said, “We have to be able to tell people how to cope with failure…this is something we are focusing on." 

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