Context:  The All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) Survey 2020-21 conducted under the Ministry of Education found that the Muslim community’s enrolment in higher education declined at a time when the enrolment of SCs, STs and OBCs improved.

All India Survey of Higher Education

  • All India Survey of Higher Education is an annual web-based survey, which started in 2010-11 and conducted by Ministry of Education.
  • The survey covers all the Institutions in the country engaged in imparting of higher education. Data is being collected on several parameters such as teachers, student enrolment, programmes, examination results, education finance, infrastructure.
  • Indicators of educational development such as Institution Density, Gross Enrolment Ratio, Pupil-teacher ratio, Gender Parity Index, Per Student Expenditure will also be calculated from the data collected through AISHE.
    • These are useful in making informed policy decisions and research for development of education sector.
  • For the first time, the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of India have filled their data using an entirely online data collection platform through the Web Data Capture Format (Web DCF) developed by the Department of Higher Education and the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

Key findings from the Report:

  • Enrollment in higher education increases to 4.14 crore, crossing the 4 crore mark for first time; increase of 7.5% from 2019-20 and 21% from 2014-15. Female enrollment reaches 2 crore mark, increase of 13 Lakh from 2019-20
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio(GER) for all enrolments (as per 2011 Census) increased by over 2 points to 27.3.
  • The female enrolment in higher education programmes had increased to 49% of total enrolments in 2020-21 compared to 45% in 2019-20.
  • Significant increase of 28% in enrolment of SC students and 38% in enrolment of Female SC Students in 2020-21, compared to 2014-15.
  • Substantial increase of 47% in enrolment of ST students and 63.4% increase in the enrolment of Female ST Students in 2020-21, compared to 2014-15.
  • Significant increase of 32% in OBC Student enrolment and 39% in Female OBC Students, since 2014-15.
  • Notable increase of 29% in Student Enrolment and 34% in Female Student Enrolment in the North Eastern Region in 2020-21 since 2014-15.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) has improved from previous year for all social groups
  • Enrollment in Distance Education has increased by 7% in 2020-21 from 2019-20
  • Number of Universities has increased by 70, number of Colleges has increased by 1,453, in 2020-21 over 2019-20
  • Gender Parity Index (GPI) has increased from 1 in 2017-18 to 1.05 in 2020-21
  • Total number of faculty/teachers increases by 47,914 from 2019-20
  • The proportion of Muslim students enrolling for higher education dropped to 4.6% in 2020-21 from 5.5% in 2019-20
  • During 2020-21, the number of universities has increased by 70, and the number of colleges has increased by 1,453.
  • The female per 100 male faculty has improved to 75 in 2020-21 from 74 in 2019-20 and 63 in 2014-15.
All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) Survey 2020-21
All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) Survey 2020-21

Other points

  • Be it learning or teaching, the Muslim community is lagging behind all communities, including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in higher education
  • It’s caused partially by the COVID-19 pandemic, points to the relative economic impoverishment of the community, which forces its talented students to pursue earning opportunities after completing schooling rather than enrolling for higher education, beginning at the graduation level.

Current Major Issues Related to India’s Higher Education System

  • Faculty Shortage: AISHE 2020-21 showed that the teacher-pupil ratio was at 27 for all universities, colleges and standalone institutions and at 24 if only regular mode is considered due to which the quality of education remains a concern.
  • Inadequate Infrastructure: Poor infrastructure is another challenge to higher education in India.
    • Due to the budget deficit, corruption and lobbying by the vested interest group, public as well as private sector universities in India lack the necessary infrastructure.
  • Regulatory Issues: Management of Indian higher education faces challenges of lack of accountability, transparency, and professionalism.
    • As a result of the increase in the number of affiliated colleges and students, the burden of administrative functions of universities has significantly increased and the core focus on academics and research is diluted.
  • Problem of Brain Drain: Due to cutthroat competition for getting admission in top institutes like IITs and IIMs, a challenging academic environment is created for a large number of students in India, so they prefer going abroad, which makes our country deprived of good talent.
    • There is definitely a quantitative expansion of education in India but the qualitative front (essential for a student to get a job) is lagging behind.

How can the Indian Higher Education System be Revolutionized?

  • Implementation of National Education Policy (NEP): The implementation of the NEP can help shake the education system from its slumber.
    • Moving away from the current 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system will bring the pre-school age group formally into the education set-up.
  • Education-Employment Corridor: India’s educational setup needs to be enhanced by integrating vocational learning with mainstream education and providing right mentorship at school (especially in government schools) to ensure that students are guided in the right direction from the start and are aware of career opportunities.
  • Taking a Note from Past to Future: It is important to look to the future while keeping our long-established roots in mind.
    • The ancient evaluation of education was not restricted to grading thematic knowledge. Students were assessed on the skills they learned and how well they can apply practical knowledge to real-life situations.
      • The modern education system can also devise similar systems of assessment.