Colleges including the Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Birla Institute of Technology & Science and Vellore Institute of Technology are taking various steps to ensure the mental wellbeing of students.
This comes even as the Delhi High Court called upon IITs to prioritise students’ wellbeing to combat suicides. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged students, families and teachers to collectively address exam stress.
In the wake of three recent student suicides, IIT-Kanpur has put together a five-member review committee to address and solve student issues. This is in addition to strengthening its counselling services and regular discussions at department levels to identify issues of academic stress, isolation and other difficulties faced by the students.
IIT-Delhi has formed an Academic Progress Group with almost half a dozen faculty members to monitor students, especially at the undergrad level, in case they fall behind in academics. “This group is to monitor student academic progress, recommend policy changes, if required, and support students who are in need of help,” said dean academics Narayanan D Kurur.
IIT-Delhi has also hired external counsellors to ensure that all of its over a dozen hostels have at least one counsellor in the daytime, he said. During placements, a high-pressure period for graduating students, the institute is in constant touch with them.A tough hiring year
“The macroeconomic environment and the ongoing hiring downturn have most worried about the placement scenario for the year 2024. While BITS-Pilani recognises this reality, we have been proactive in addressing the situation head-on,” said BITS Pilani vice chancellor V Ramgopal Rao.
On BITS-Pilani campuses, faculty members identify students who are not regular to classes or have secluded themselves and counsel them. Based on the need, the student welfare division reports the case to a professional on-campus counsellor. BITS campuses have cells that offer counselling and psychiatric consultations. The academic counselling board counsels students in academic matters, resolves challenges, if any, and also interacts with parents on a need basis. BITS has also recently decided to do away with reporting highest placement packages to reduce undue pressure, he said.
IIT-BHU, where a student was found dead in his hostel room late Wednesday, said it ensures that any student with mental health concerns gets counselling from campus psychologists.
This semester, NIT-Jalandhar launched an ERP system, tracking student performance and attendance, that acts as a preventive measure to alert about any signs of stress.
The NIT has also incorporated a mentorship programme for new students from this academic year. “Every first-year student will have a senior student guide under the supervision of faculty members,” said director Binod Kumar Kanaujia. He also started engaging in one-on-one interactions with students to understand their on-ground problems.
VIT Vellore follows a FFCS (Fully Flexible Credit System) which gives students control over the academic load, support for slow learners and opportunities for advanced learners, said VIT pro-vice chancellor Partha Sharathi Mallick.
An IIT professor who did not want to be identified said however that such measures would only go so far, and a deeper systemic change is required. “On ground, these issues are not taken seriously enough; people keep pushing themselves and the competitive market only makes things worse. These are youngsters; not everyone can handle the pressure.”
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