Share of Muslim Enrolment in Higher Education in India: 2016-17 to 2020-21

The data presented in Table 31 illustrates a positive trend in the enrollment of Muslim students in higher education in India over the past few years. From 17,39,218 Muslim students enrolled in higher education in 2016-17, the number increased to 19,21,713 in 2020-21. However, in the latest year, i.e., 2020-21, the Muslim enrolment in higher education declined to 19,21,713 students from  21,00,860 students in the previous 2019-20, thus showing a decline of 1,79,147 students in absolute terms or 8.53 in percentage terms which is termed significant and has severe implications for Muslim education in India. Almost 49 percent of the decline in higher education enrolment in 2020-21 amounted to a decline in female enrollment. Incidentally, female enrolment in higher education was the highest, with 1054486 female students in 2020-21.

Furthermore, the percentage of Muslim students enrolled in higher education relative to the total number of students enrolled has also seen a slight decrease, declining from 4.87 percent in 2016-17 to 4.64 percent in 2020-21, against a decline from 4.83 percent to 4.50 percent in case of male and from 4.91 percent to 4.80 percent in case of female enrolment during the same period.

On the other hand, a consistent increase is observed in higher education enrolment during 2016-17 to 2019-20, which is true separately for male and female enrolment. Several factors have likely contributed to the increase in Muslim students’ participation in higher education. These factors include a growing awareness of the importance of education within Muslim communities, improved access to information about educational opportunities, and an increasing number of scholarships and financial assistance options specifically designed to support Muslim students in pursuing higher education. The efforts of government and private institutions to expand educational opportunities and increase access to higher education might have also played a crucial role in this positive trend.

%Muslim Enrolment to Total Higher Education Enrolment, 2016-17 to 2020-21

%Muslim Enrolment to Total Higher Education Enrolment, 2016-17 to 2020-21

However, despite the progress, there are still challenges that Muslim students face in accessing higher education in India. Many Muslim students come from low-income families and struggle to afford the cost of higher education. To address this issue, it is essential to provide financial assistance and support to deserving students who face financial constraints. Enhancing and increasing the number of scholarships, grants, and financial aid opportunities targeted explicitly at Muslim students can significantly alleviate the financial burden and help more deserving students access higher education.

Table 31: Muslim Enrolment in Higher Education: 2016-17 to 2020-21


Muslim Enrolment Total Enrolment %Muslim Enrolment to Total Enrolment
Male Female Both Male Female Both Male Female


2020-21 954655 967058 1921713 21237910 20142803 41380713 4.5 4.8 4.64
2019-20 1046374 1054486 2100860 19643747 18892612 38536359 5.33 5.58 5.45
2018-19 993396 965608 1959004 19209888 18189500 37399388 5.17 5.31 5.24
2017-18 939488 898121 1837609 19204675 17437703 36642378 4.89 5.15 5.01
2016-17 916388 822830 1739218 18980595 16725310 35705905 4.83 4.92 4.87
Source: AIHES 2020-21, Ministry of Education, GoI.

Additionally, improving the overall quality of education, providing equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their background, and creating a more inclusive and supportive learning environment are critical aspects that can further enhance Muslim students’ enrollment and success in higher education. By addressing these challenges and fostering an environment that encourages and supports educational pursuits among Muslim communities, India can ensure that more talented and deserving students can pursue higher education and contribute to the nation’s progress and development.

Muslim Gross Enrolment Ratio at School Education in India (2021-22)

State-wise Muslim Gross Enrolment Ratio at School Education in India (2021-22)

Muslims Gross Enrolment Ratio at Higher Education Level (2020-21)

Average Annual Growth Rate: Muslim Enrolment in Higher Education

Muslim Gender Parity Index at Higher Education Level in India, 2016-17 to 2020-21


Share of Muslim Enrolment at School to Higher Education Level