India has made significant progress in higher education in the last 30 years: Madheswaran
Stressing upon the urgent need to balance the demand and supply of educated human-power through an optimal enrolment policy, S. Madheswaran, director, Institute for Social and Economic Change, said the disconnect between the higher education sector and the evolving employment market raises a question about the relevance of university degrees.
Addressing the 38th annual convocation of Gulbarga University here on Friday via video conferencing, Prof. Madheswaran said that gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education drastically differs in developed and developing countries. The All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) data reveals that the GER in higher education has increased from 19.4 in 2010-11 to 26.3 in 2018-19.
“In the last three decades, India has made significant progress in higher education. The increase in GER of India in the last decade is almost double. Though there seems to be a proportionate expansion in the number of universities that increased 3.87 times, colleges with 3.12 times and the number of students enrolment being 3.65 times, Indian GER for higher education remains lower than the current global average of 29. The difference between GER and eligible enrolment ratio (EER) is less than 10 percentage points for most developed countries, which indicates a relatively stable education system. For emerging countries, it is between 20 to 30 percentage points, but for India, the difference between the GER and EER is 37.5 percentage points for 2017, the highest of all 10 countries. This high difference between GER and EER indicates a huge gap between the ‘Population eligible’ and ‘eligible population’,” Prof. Madheswaran added.
He said that over the last five years a slight improvement can be observed in the difference, and this could be attributed to the success of government programmes, which may have resulted in reducing drop-outs and retention at higher secondary levels. He opined that the gap in GER and EER can be further narrowed down only by strengthening the school system. Throwing light on the growth of higher education in India, Prof. Madheswaran said that with 51,649 higher education institutions, the Indian higher education system is one of the largest in the world. In terms of enrolment, India stood second only to China (41.8 million) with 35.7 million students currently enrolled in universities and colleges.
In the 1980s, the government faced a growing demand for higher education but was unable to meet the demand through public institutions which led to the entry of private players in the sector. From 1990 to 2001, enrolment doubled from 4.4 million to 8.8 million. There was a drastic increase in the number of institutions and enrolment in higher education between 2001 and 2012. Enrolment tripled from 8.8 million to 28.5 million while the GER doubled from 8.1% to 19.4%. In the last five years, over 6000 institutions and six million students being added to the higher education system, he said.
Under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan 2.0 (RUSA), the Ministry of Education has set a target of achieving 32% GER by 2022.
Prof. Madheswaran also spoke at length on the key challenges impeding the performance of the higher education sector, growing divergence between curriculum and market demands, quality research works, promoting interdisciplinary learning, and creating a broader education ecosystem. He also stressed on the need for expansion of online education, improve funding and cost-cutting
Minister for Higher Education and Pro-Chancellor of the University C.N. Ashwath Narayana virtually attended the event. While congratulating all the graduating students and gold medal winners, Dr. Narayana said that the knowledge possessed should be utilised for the betterment of society. He lauded the role of the Gulbarga University in promoting education, especially for focusing on rural and backward areas in the Kalyana Karnataka region.