50 percent GER at Higher Education in India in 2035 possible?
By Arun C Mehta
Unlike school education level at which enrolment based indicators such as Gross & Net enrolment ratio as well as Age-specific and Adjusted-NER are frequently computed and use in plan formulation, at the higher education level only Gross Enrolment Ratio is being used to examine the participation of a relevant age-specific population i.e. 18 to 23 years in the higher education programmes. In this article, we have examinsed whether 50 percent GER at higher education in India in 2035 is possible?
For calculating GER at any level of education, information on total enrolment in a year and the corresponding age-specific population in that year is required. While total enrolment and its male and female bifurcation, as well as enrolment by the social category i.e. Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes, is available from the All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHS, latest for 2019-20) but the same is not true for the corresponding age-specific population the main source of which is the Census & Registrar General of India, the latest Census figures being available for the year 2011.
In the absence of an official projected population based on the 2011 Census, earlier projections based on population up to 2001 are being used by the Ministry of Education to estimate the age-specific population in a year which is adjusted given the total 2011 Census population (details can be seen under the Statistics Section of the Official Website of Department of School Education & Literacy).
Because of the limitations in the projected population, GER and other enrolment-based indicators have been seen off the mark in the past decade which is true for all levels of education. Therefore, the latest GER for 2019-20 and also in the past years, the same must be analyzed in light of these limitations.
With 50 percent GER at the higher education level, the quantum increase of enrolment in absolute terms cannot be known unless the reliable estimate of the population between the age-group 18 to 23 years is known in the year 2035. The GER for the year 2021 based on the actual Census 2021 population when available may reveal the real situation concerning the participation of 18 to 23 years population in higher education programmes; it is likely to show a declining trend because of the ongoing pandemic across the country.