In order to arrest the decline of women candidates, IITs have decided to admit more female students from the 2018 academic session. The decision was taken at the Joint Admission Board (JAB) of the IITs on Saturday . The board approved a quota of supernumerary (over and above the actual intake) seats for women in a phased manner reaching up to 20% by 2026.

In 2014, 8.8% women were admitted and the figure went up to 9% in 2015, but in 2016 it came down to 8%. Concerned by the slump in the number of female students entering IITs, the JAB set up a panel under the chairmanship of Prof Timothy Gonsalves to find ways to rectify the situation. “The supernumerary quota has been created to combat gender imbalance. Already the number of girls taking the entrance test is less.Even if they don't qualify under the general category , women will be admitted via the supernumerary quota,“ a JAB member said. The 20% supernumerary seats, which will be implemented in a phased manner, will be filled by women who have cleared Joint Engineering Entrance (Advanced). “Also, they should be in the top 20 percentile in their respective board exams,“ a senior HRD ministry official said.

This will, however, not affect the existing number of seats as the supernumerary seats will be additional seats reserved for female candidates. IITs, along with the Indian Institutes of Management, are among India's premier institutes. IITs, along with IISc, Bangalore, have been the torch bearers in global rankings. But the 23 IIT campuses are plagued by massive gender imbalance.At present, only 8% of the students are women. The IIMs too witnessed a threeyear low of gender diversity in 2016 despite efforts.

Among the measures to be taken at the IITs, it has been decided that seats vacated by women will be filled by other women and the supernumerary seats will be increased to 14% from 2018.“However, all this depends on how many women candidates we get from JEE (Advanced) who are also in the top 20 percentile in their respective board exams. But we expect increased interest among women following this reservation. For this, the IITs will be making special provision in the admission process,“ said the HRD official.

The committee has also recommended long-term measures to be taken at the school level so that more girls qualify the JEE (Advanced).