University Grants Commission (UGC) - the apex regulator for higher education in India has come out with a report and sent it to all the universities in the country stating present scenario of higher education in India. The report, ‘Higher Education in India at a Glance’ prepared by the Chairman, Ved Praksah and other senior UGC members, states the vital statistics pertaining to higher education in the country in terms of number of institutions, type of degree awarding institutions and the enrolment ratio etc in past 61 years (1950 to 2011). The report highlights encouraging figures in the growth in number of institutions and enrolment ratio but it also shows that this growth is more in professional streams. It also potrays a dismal picture on the research and development front.
As per the report, presently there are 634 degree awarding institutions in the country with Tamil Nadu leading the chart with 59, followed by 58 in Uttar Pradesh, 48 in Rajasthan, 44 in Maharashtra and Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal having 42, 36, 28 and 26 respectively. The eight states of North-East have 40 such institutions with Assam having 10, Meghalaya, 9. Rest of the six NE states Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura having 5, 4,3,3,3 and 3 respectively. The small number of institutions in these states can be due to the small size of these states. But we also have to admit that many students from this region move to different central universities thereby raising questions on the quality of higher education being provided by these institutions.
The report also says that out of the total degree awarding institutions 47 per cent (297) are state universities followed by deemed universities with 20 per cent share (129). The central universities and institutes of national importance and other university level institutions standing at 7 and 10 per cent each. Interestingly, the private universities are just 100 in number accounting for 16 per cent share.
Detailing about the growth of higher education institutions in India in past 60 years the report says that in 1950 the total number of universities were 30 (most of them government run or funded) and the number of colleges at that time were 695 which means on an average 23 colleges per university. In 2011 the numbers of universities has grown 30 folds and are 634 while the numbers of colleges are 33,023, averaging 55 colleges per university, thus putting huge pressure on the university administration in managing these institutions. It is also to be mentioned that out of these 634 universities, 100 are private.
While talking about the growth in student enrolment the report states that in 1950 the total number of students enrolled in higher education institutions was 3, 97, 000. The growth witnessed is steady till 2001 and stood at 83, 99, 000 but saw an unprecedented surge in next 10 years. In 2010-11 it stands at 1, 69, 75, 000 a figure that has almost doubled in the last decade. Representing the enrolment of girls during the same period, the report states in 1950 the figure was 43, 000 and in 2001 it stood at 33, 06, 000 while in 2010-11 it reached 70, 49, 000.
On the much debatable topic of research, the report paints a dismal picture stating that the student enrollment in this area is not encouraging. Talking about enrolment by stages, the report says that 86 per cent students complete their Graduation, while only 12 per cent opt for Post-Graduate programmes and only 1 per cent opts for research thus making it clear that the students either do not have zeal for pursuing post graduation and research or have better career option available after graduation. The rest 1 per cent go for diploma or certificate courses.
The report goes in detail and states that maximum numbers of students from both the sexes choose Humanities stream followed by engineering by boys and girls choose science while management or commerce stream is still the third preference. Meanwhile, programmes in Agriculture, Education and Veterinary sciences have very few takers.
Talking about the public expenditure in education the report states that in 1950 education had 7.92 per cent share of total public expenditure which was 0.64 per cent of the GDP. In 2009 it stood at 13.63 per cent of total public expenditure and 3.77 per cent of GDP. Of this the higher education got 32.3 per cent.
It can be concluded from the findings of this UGC report that despite of growth in terms of number of colleges and enrolment the numbers are not sufficient enough to cater to the education needs of increasing young population of this country. It is also evident from the above report that there is lack of interest among students to opt for research projects that could be attributed to the reason such as they prefer lucrative jobs which could fetch them more money than spending years in doing research and getting very little compensation during that period. The reason could also be that there is lack of motivation to do research and the teaching community cannot shy away from the fact that they are not able to generate that motivation and interest among their students. The onus also lies on the bodies like UGC and AICTE and the universities to provide adequate facilities to young researchers along with good compensation for them to proceed in that direction.