The country’s Gross Enrolment Ratio or GER in higher education has registered an increase from 24.5% in 2015-16 to 25.2% in 2016-17, according to the latest edition of the All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) launched by Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday.
GER is a statistical measure for determining the number of students enrolled in undergraduate, postgraduate and research level studies within the country and is expressed as a percentage of the population.
Although India aims to attain a GER of 30% by 2020, it’s still much behind countries like China, which, currently, boasts an enrolment ratio of 43.39%. USA’s GER is 85.8% and Pakistan’s is 9.93%.
There were a total of 864 universities in the country last year compared to 799 in 2015-16. According to AIHES of 2016-17, Tamil Nadu has the highest GER in the country at 46.9%, which is higher than the national average. Bihar’s poor show continues with just 14.9% of its eligible population (in the age group of 18 to 23 years) pursuing higher education.
As has been the case in the past, states in south India have higher college density, which is defined as the number of colleges per lakh eligible population. Puducherry has, on average, 549 students enrolled in each college. This is followed by Telangana with 483 students in each college and Karnataka with 381. The college density in the top three states is 49 in Puducherry, 59 in Telangana and 53 in Karnataka.
Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the pile with seven, eight and 11 colleges, respectively for every one lakh students in the state.
At a time when Indian Institutions are competing to figure in world rankings, there hasn’t been much improvement in the internationalisation of Indian education. There is a marginal improvement in the number of foreign students —from 45,424 in 2015-16 to 47,575 in 2016-17 — studying in the country. Of the total foreign students, 31,779 are men and 15,796 are women.