GER at Higher Education Level in India: Brief Analysis, 2023
In the previous post, we analyzed the Net Enrolment Ratio at different levels of school education in India, which reveals that India still has to go a long way to attain the status of universal school education in the real sense. Children’s participation in school education has direct implications for higher education to grow. However, only the Gross Enrolment Ratio is available in higher education. Thanks to the efforts made by the Department of the Higher Education of the Ministry of Education through the All India Survey on Higher Education, GER is regularly available in the public domain. The same is for 2020-21; the latest year for which the AISHE GER is available is analyzed in the present post.
The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) measures the number of students enrolled in higher education as a percentage of the eligible population aged 18 to 23 years.
Overall, the GER for higher education has increased from 24.1 percent in 2016-17 to 27.3 percent in 2020-21. This positive trend indicates an increasing number of students enrolling in higher education. However, the data also shows a significant gap between male and female GER, with females consistently having lower GER than males across all years. In 2020-21, the difference in GER between males and females was 1.2 percentage points. In 2016-17, the GER for males was 24.3 percent, while for females, it was 23.8 percent. By 2020-21, the GER for males had increased to 26.7 percent, and for females, it had increased to 27.9 percent.
|Gross Enrolment Ratio at Higher Education level (18 to 23 years) 2016-17 to 2020-21|
Source: AIHES, Ministry of Education (different years).
Moreover, the GER for SCs and STs is lower than the national average for all categories. However, there has been a significant improvement in the GER for SC and ST females from 2016-17 to 2020-21. In 2020-21, the GER for SCs was 23.1 percent, and for STs, is 18.9 percent, compared to the national average of 27.3 percent. On the other hand, the GER for SC females in 2016-17 was 13.9 percent, but by 2020-21, it had increased to 19.1 percent. Despite improvements, GER indicates that students from marginalized communities still face barriers to accessing higher education.
While the overall trend of increasing GER is positive, the persistent gender and social inequality in access to higher education is a matter of concern. Policymakers must address the root causes of these inequalities and take appropriate measures to ensure that all students, regardless of gender or social background, have equal opportunities to pursue higher education.
State-specific GER, A Few Observations
- Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu has consistently maintained a high GER for males and females, with the highest overall GER in 2020-21 at 49.3 percent. The GER for SC and ST males and females is lower than the overall GER, but there has been a significant increase in GER for SC and ST females from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
- Uttar Pradesh: Uttar Pradesh has a lower GER than the national average, with the overall GER in 2020-21 at 21.8 percent. However, there has been a consistent increase in GER for both males and females over the years. The GER for SC and ST males and females is also lower than the overall GER, but there has been a significant improvement in GER for SC and ST females from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
- Kerala: Kerala has consistently maintained a high GER for males and females over the years, with the overall GER in 2020-21 at 39.8 percent. The GER for SC and ST males and females is lower than the overall GER, but there has been a significant increase in GER for SC and ST females from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
- Bihar: Bihar has a lower GER than the national average, with the overall GER in 2020-21 at 18.8 percent. However, there has been a consistent increase in GER for both males and females over the years. The GER for SC and ST males and females is also lower than the overall GER, but a significant increase in GER for SC and ST females from 2016-17 to 2020-21is observed.
Overall, the state-specific analysis shows that while some states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala have consistently maintained a high GER, there is a need for improvement in other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Additionally, there is still a need to address the gap in GER between different social groups in all states to ensure equitable access to higher education for all.
Some of the salient points concerning GER are as follows:
- The national GER for higher education has increased from 24.1 percent in 2016-17 to 27.3 percent in 2020-21, with both male and female GERs showing an upward trend.
- Kerala had the highest GER of all states and UTs in 2020-21, with a value of 46.5 percent.
- Bihar had the lowest GER of all states and UTs in 2020-21, with a value of 15.9 percent.
- Other states and UTs with a high GER in 2020-21 include Delhi (45.5 percent), Chandigarh (44.5 percent), and Tamil Nadu (42.5 percent).
- Other states and UTs with a low GER in 2020-21 include Jharkhand (19.6 percent), Assam (17.5 percent), and Uttar Pradesh (16.5 percent).
Scheduled Castes: GER
- The national SC GER for higher education has increased from 20.3 percent in 2016-17 to 23.1 percent in 2020-21.
- Chandigarh had the highest SC GER of all states and UTs in 2020-21, with a value of 52.5 percent.
- Bihar had the lowest SC GER of all states and UTs in 2020-21, with a value of 11.5 percent.
- Other states and UTs with a high SC GER in 2020-21 include Tamil Nadu (43.5 percent), Delhi (42.8 percent), and Haryana (39.1 percent).
- Other states and UTs with a low SC GER in 2020-21 include Jharkhand (15.5 percent), Uttar Pradesh (14.6 percent), and Rajasthan (13.5 percent).
Scheduled Tribes: GER
- The national ST GER for higher education has increased from 14.8 percent in 2016-17 to 18.9 percent in 2020-21.
- Lakshadweep had the highest ST GER of all states and UTs in 2020-21, with a value of 60.7 percent.
- Bihar had the lowest ST GER of all states and UTs in 2020-21, with a value of 10.9 percent.
- Other states and UTs with a high ST GER in 2020-21 include Mizoram (54.7 percent), Arunachal Pradesh (34.6 percent), and Nagaland (32.8 percent).
- Other states and UTs with a low ST GER in 2020-21 include Gujarat (4.4 percent), Jharkhand (4.7 percent), and Rajasthan (4.9 percent).
Overall, the data suggests that there has been an increase in the GER for higher education across India, with some states and UTs showing more progress than others. However, there is still a significant GER gap between castes and genders, with SC and ST populations lagging behind the national average.
Role of School Education in Higher Education
In terms of numbers, school education can contribute to the growth of higher education by providing a large pool of prepared and eligible students. As per the official data of the Ministry of Education, the GER in higher education level in India was 27.1 percent, which means that around 27 out of 100 students in the eligible age group (18-23 years) were enrolled in higher education.
To further increase GER, school education needs to focus on providing quality education to a more significant number of students. According to the ASER, 59.2 percent of children aged 6-14 years in rural areas and 17.5 percent in urban areas attend private schools, which highlights the need for increased access to quality education in government schools. Improving the quality of education schools can help bridge the gap between rural & urban areas and increase the number of eligible and prepared students for higher education.
Moreover, with the National Education Policy 2020, school education is expected to play a more significant role in preparing students for higher education. The policy aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education to 50 percent by 2035, which will require significant efforts to improve the quality of school education and increase access to higher education.
Here are some ways in which school education can contribute to the growth of higher education:
- Firm Foundation: School education gives students a solid foundation in the core subjects such as mathematics, science, and language. This foundation is essential for success in higher education.
- Holistic Development: School education should focus on developing a well-rounded personality of students, including their cognitive, emotional, and social development. This prepares students to handle the academic and social demands of higher education.
- Exposure to Different Subjects: School education should provide exposure to various subjects and activities to help students identify their interests and passions. This helps students choose the right higher education stream and courses.
- Inculcate Research and Analytical Skills: School education should focus on developing students’ research and analytical skills, which are essential for success in higher education. This can be achieved through project work, experiments, and critical thinking exercises.
- Strengthening Language Skills: School education should focus on strengthening language skills, particularly in English, as it is the language of instruction in many higher education institutions.
- Guidance and Counselling: School education should provide guidance and counseling to students to help them make informed decisions about their higher education choices. This can include career guidance, college admissions, and financial aid options.
Overall, school education can play a significant role in preparing students for higher education. By focusing on a solid foundation, holistic development, exposure to different subjects, research and analytical skills, language skills, and guidance and counseling, school education can help students make informed decisions and succeed in higher education.
Higher Education: Challenges being faced in India
India faces several challenges in higher education. Some of the significant challenges are:
- Access and Equity: One of the biggest challenges is providing access to quality higher education to a diverse population. Many students from disadvantaged backgrounds, mainly rural areas, face significant barriers to accessing higher education.
- Quality of Education: Another challenge is the quality of education. Despite there being many higher education institutions in India, not all offer high-quality education. This leads to a mismatch between the skills required by the industry and the skills of the graduates.
- Funding: Higher education in India requires significant funding, but the government’s educational budget is limited. Many institutions of higher education struggle to secure funding for research and development, infrastructure, and faculty salaries.
- Faculty Shortage: There is a shortage of qualified faculty in many higher education institutions, particularly in specialized fields. This shortage affects the quality of education and research.
- Outdated Curriculum: Another challenge is the outdated curriculum. Many higher education institutions have not updated curricula to keep up with industry requirements, technological advancements, and societal changes.
- Employability: While higher education is expected to prepare students for employment, many graduates are unemployed due to a lack of practical skills, industry exposure, and soft skills.
Addressing these challenges requires significant reforms in the higher education sector, including increased funding, improved access and equity, quality assurance mechanisms, faculty development, curriculum reforms, and stronger industry-academia linkages.
Impact of increased demand for Higher Education in India
Higher education is critical in shaping a person’s career and personal growth. The present status of school education directly impacts higher education as it lays the foundation for advanced learning. Here are some ways to view higher education because of the present status of school education:
- Increased demand for higher education: With the increase in the number of students completing school education, there is a greater demand for higher education. This demand has resulted in the expansion of higher education institutions and the diversification of courses.
- Greater emphasis on skills and innovation: The present status of school education has emphasized skill-based education and innovation. This trend is also reflected in higher education, where universities focus on equipping students with practical skills relevant to the current job market.
- Importance of research: The present status of school education has also highlighted the importance of research-based learning. This emphasis on research has also been carried over to higher education institutions, where students are encouraged to pursue research projects, internships, and work experience opportunities to develop practical skills.
- The need for collaboration: The present status of school education has made it evident that collaboration between educational institutions and stakeholders is crucial for developing education systems. This need for collaboration is also relevant to higher education, where universities collaborate with industry partners and other institutions to provide students with better learning opportunities.
Overall, higher education plays a crucial role in building on the foundation of school education and preparing students for their future careers. The present status of school education has highlighted need for innovative and collaborative approaches to higher education to meet the demands of an ever-changing job market.