Published: 25th June 2020
IIT Bombay to start next semester online, to crowdfund Rs 5 crore for tech, gadgets for underprivileged students
While a lot of students welcome this, they also raised concerns over this affecting their research. Maharashtra, where the IIT is located, has the maximum number of COVID cases in the country
Owing to the rising number of Coronavirus cases in the country and Maharashtra, IIT Bombay has now decided to conduct its next semester completely online. The institute's director Subhasis Chaudhuri had announced this on Thursday, via a post on Facebook. "To ensure that our students begin the academic year without further delay, we are planning on extensive online classes, details of which will be informed to all students in due course of time," reads the post.
The institute has also sought to crowdfund an amount of Rs 5 crore, to help the underprivileged students access technology and gadgets, in order to attend these classes. "We do not want a single student to miss out on the learning experience for the lack of money. We have estimated that we need about Rs 5 crore to help those needy students," reads the post. Those interested can make a donation through the IIT Bombay website or send a cheque to the institute's registrar.
Maharashtra, where the institute is located, has the most number of COVID cases in the country. While more than 143,000 people have been infected, 6,739 have succumbed to the pandemic. In this scenario, the students of the second-best engineering institute in the country believe that going online is the way forward and the safest bet, in the current scenario. "It is problematic for my research. It has been halted since March. But in the current situation, it is not wise to go to Mumbai. My family and I think it is okay to postpone the research and consider safety first," says a researcher. He has been living with his family in Hyderabad, since the beginning of the lockdown. He also says that all the students have access to the institute's network via VPN, making access easier for them.
We also spoke to Surya Prakash, another PhD scholar in the institute. While he agrees that a semester online is a safe option, but he raises certain concerns. "This will further affect our research. We already left the labs in the beginning of March. Now, we will have to wait for some more time to return to the labs. However, the teaching won't be affected," he says. He also says that the researchers and teaching assistants will have issues with computing too. "We can access the institute's server, but our computers are not fast enough. Also, we're now awaiting guidelines for teaching assistants. I hope that the institute doesn't insist on students making daily attendance," he says.
At the same time, a few students have critcised the institute's alleged decision asking the students to vacate their hostel rooms by the first week of August. "If the whole semester is going to be online, then why is the administration forcing the students to vacate their rooms? We can still wait until the pandemic gets under control. Traveling from my home to the IIT will surely throw me at a high risk of getting infected," a researcher commented under the director's post.