Download AISHE 2017-18 to 2021-22 Enrolment Data, All India & State-specific

Higher Education Enrollment in India: Trends, Insights, and Implications for NEP 2020 based on AISHE 2021-22 State-specific Data (2024)


India’s higher education landscape has witnessed significant growth and transformation over the past five years, as evidenced by the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) data. This article discusses state-wise and gender-wise enrollment patterns, annual growth rates, and the implications of achieving the ambitious target set by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

 National Scenario

 At the national level, India’s total higher education enrollment increased from 36,642,378 in 2017-18 to 43,268,181 in 2021-22, registering an impressive annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 4.24 percent. This growth can be attributed to several factors, including expanding educational infrastructure, increasing awareness of the importance of higher education, and government initiatives to promote access and equity.

Gender Representation and Growth Rates

While the overall enrollment has increased, the AAGR for female students (4.37 percent) has outpaced that of male students (4.13 percent) during this period, reflecting concerted efforts towards gender parity in higher education and women’s empowerment through educational opportunities.

GER at higher Education level 2017-18 to 2021-22

GER at higher Education level 2017-18 to 2021-22

In 2021-22, male students accounted for 52.18 percent of the total enrollment, while female students constituted 47.82 percent. However, this national average masks significant variations across states and union territories.

State-wise Analysis and Annual Growth Rates

Uttar Pradesh: With a total enrollment of 6,973,424 in 2021-22, Uttar Pradesh emerged as the state with the highest number of students pursuing higher education. The state witnessed an AAGR of 1.95 percent for total enrollment, with AAGRs of 2.62 percent for male students and 1.22 percent for female students.

  • Maharashtra: Following closely behind Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra recorded a total enrollment of 4,577,843 in 2021-22, with an AAGR of 2.60 percent (2.87 percent for male students and 2.26 percent for female students).
  • Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu secured the third position with a total enrollment of 3,309,327 in 2021-22. However, the state experienced a negative AAGR of -0.97 percent, with AAGRs of -0.60 percent for male students and -1.36 percent for female students, indicating a potential need for measures to boost enrollment in the coming years.
  • Andhra Pradesh: Among the states that exhibited remarkable growth, Andhra Pradesh stood out with an impressive AAGR of 14.72 percent in total enrollment (13.50 percent for male students and 16.31 percent for female students), the highest in the country.
  • Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan: These two states also witnessed significant growth, with AAGRs of 10.39 percent (10.14 percent for male students and 10.69 percent for female students) and 8.56 percent (7.92 percent for male students and 9.32 percent for female students), respectively, in total enrollment during the period under review.

GPI at Higher Education India 2021-22 AISHE

Gender Dynamics at the State Level

While several states witnessed an overall increase in enrollment, gender representation varied considerably across different regions. States like Kerala (AAGR of 4.76 percent, with 3.67 percent for male students and 5.61 percent for female students), Mizoram (AAGR of 12.22 percent, with 9.96 percent for male students and 14.68 percent for female students), Manipur (AAGR of 5.64 percent, with 6.61 percent for male students and 4.69 percent for female students), and Meghalaya (AAGR of 3.57 percent, with 1.90 percent for male students and 5.06 percent for female students) had a higher share and faster growth rates for female students compared to male students in 2021-22.

 On the other hand, states such as Gujarat (AAGR of 5.46 percent, with 5.10 percent for male students and 5.94 percent for female students), Haryana (AAGR of 4.86 percent, with 3.78 percent for male students and 5.96 percent for female students), and Madhya Pradesh (AAGR of 10.39 percent, with 10.14 percent for male students and 10.69 percent for female students) exhibited a higher growth rate for male students compared to female students during this period.

Implications for NEP 2020

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 aims to increase higher education’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50 percent by 2035. To achieve this goal, sustained efforts and strategic interventions are necessary across all states and union territories.

NEP 2020

NEP 2020

The positive growth trends observed in several states, particularly those with higher growth rates for female enrollment, indicate a promising pathway toward realizing the NEP 2020 objectives. However, the regional disparities and gender imbalances in certain states highlight the need for targeted interventions and policies to ensure equitable access to higher education.

To accelerate the NEP 2020 target, the following measures could be considered:

  1. Strengthening educational infrastructure: Investing in developing new institutions, upgrading existing facilities, and enhancing digital infrastructure to facilitate access to higher education, particularly in underserved regions.
  2. Promoting inclusive policies: Implementing targeted scholarships, fee waivers, and other financial support mechanisms to encourage enrollment from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities and underrepresented groups, including women.
  3. Enhancing quality and relevance: Ensuring the quality and relevance of higher education programs by aligning curricula with industry needs, promoting research and innovation, and fostering collaborations between academia and industry.
  4. Bridging the gender gap: Implementing targeted initiatives, such as mentorship programs, awareness campaigns, and gender-sensitive policies, to address the gender imbalances in higher education enrollment across states.
  5. Strengthening vocational and skill-based education: Enhancing the appeal and accessibility of vocational and skill-based education programs can attract diverse students and prepare them for emerging career opportunities.

Concluding Observations

The analysis of higher education enrollment data from 2017-18 to 2021-22 reveals a positive trajectory for India, with several states contributing significantly to the overall growth. However, regional disparities and gender imbalances persist, highlighting the need for nationwide targeted interventions and policies to ensure equitable access to higher education.

By addressing these challenges and capitalizing on the existing momentum, India can accelerate its progress towards achieving the NEP 2020 target of increasing the GER in higher education to 50 percent by 2035;  this, in turn, will contribute to the development of a skilled and inclusive workforce, driving the nation’s economic growth and social progress.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How has higher education enrollment in India evolved at the state level from 2017-18 to 2021-22? Higher education enrollment in India varies significantly across states, with some experiencing remarkable growth rates while others face challenges in achieving equitable access. The analysis provides insights into enrollment trends and gender dynamics at the state level.
  2. What are some notable trends in state-wise higher education enrollment? States like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan have shown significant enrollment growth, while others, like Tamil Nadu, exhibit negative growth rates, indicating the need for targeted interventions. Gender representation also varies across states, with some witnessing faster growth rates for female enrollment.
  3. How do gender dynamics influence higher education enrollment at the state level? Gender representation in higher education enrollment varies across states, with some states showing higher growth rates for female enrollment than male enrollment. However, disparities exist in states where male enrollment outpaces female enrollment, highlighting the importance of gender-sensitive policies and interventions.
  4. What are the implications of these trends for NEP 2020? The positive growth trends in several states align with NEP 2020 goals of increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education. However, regional disparities and gender imbalances underscore the need for targeted measures to ensure equitable access and achieve NEP 2020 objectives.
  5. What measures can be taken to accelerate progress towards NEP 2020 targets? To accelerate progress towards NEP 2020 targets, measures such as strengthening educational infrastructure, promoting inclusive policies, enhancing quality and relevance, bridging the gender gap, and strengthening vocational and skill-based education are recommended. These measures can contribute to achieving the GER target of 50 percent by 2035 and foster economic and social development in India.