Higher Education in India

Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012–2017) and beyond

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This report attempts to look at the Twelfth Five Year Plan’s recommendations on higher education from a private sector perspective and suggests strategies for quality improvement in higher education.

With the objectives and proposals of the Plan as the basis, the report mentions that the private sector has played an instrumental role in the growth of the sector. Private institutions now account for 64% of the total number of institutions and 59% of enrollment in the country, as compared to 43% and 33%, respectively, a decade ago.

The Government has also given the required thrust to the sector in its Five Year Plans. During the Eleventh Plan period (2007–2012), India achieved a Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of 17.9%, up from 12.3% at the beginning of the Plan period.

India’s higher education system faces challenges on three fronts:

  • Expansion:
    • India’s GER of16% was much below the world average of 27%, as well as that of other emerging countries such as China (26%) and Brazil (36%) in 2010.
  • Excellence:
    • Faculty shortage - there is 40% and 35% shortage of faculty in state and central universities, respectively.
    • Accredited institutions - 62% of universities and 90% of colleges were average or below average in 2010, on the basis of their NAAC accreditation.
    • Low citation impact - India’s relative citation impact is half the world average.
  • Equity - There is wide disparity in the GER of higher education across states and the Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR) in urban and rural areas, and gender- and community-wise
    • Inter-state disparity - 47.9% in Delhi vs. 9% in Assam.
    • Urban-rural divide - 30% in urban areas vs. 11.1% in rural areas.
    • Differences across communities - 14.8% for OBCs, 11.6% for SCs, 7.7% for STs and 9.6% for Muslims.
    • Gender disparity - 15.2% for females vs. 19% for males.

“India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world, with 25.9 million students enrolled in more than 45,000 degree and diploma institutions in the country. It has witnessed particularly high growth in the last decade, with enrollment of students increasing at a CAGR of 10.8% and institutions at a CAGR of 9%.

Moreover, the Government intends to achieve enrollment of 35.9 million students in higher education institutions, with a GER of 25.2%, by the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan period through the co-existence of multiple types of institutions including research-centric, teaching and vocation-focused ones.

The private sector can be expected to play an instrumental role in the achievement of these outcomes through the creation of knowledge networks, research and innovation centers, corporate-backed institutions, and support for faculty development”.

Amitabh Jhingan,
Partner and National Leader,
Education practice,

Next steps

  • Merit-based student financing: This should ensure admissions to meritorious students independent of financial background
  • Internationalization of education: This would entail aligning different aspects of education (curriculum, faculty, etc) to international standards
  • Enabling a research environment. This would involve creating adequate means of research funding and practical application of research
  • High quality faculty: The need of the hour is to create a conducive environment and provide incentives to attract and retain high quality faculty
  • Improved technology for education delivery: Leveraging technology for enhancing the teaching-learning experience will ensure better outcomes
  • Employability: Making education-industry relevant and practical would be the right way to ensure a highly employable talent pool
  • India’s higher education system can be expected to be better aligned to industry and global practices, and be more transparent and inclusive by the end of Twelfth Plan period, provided the Government is able to create an enabling regulatory environment and put in place robust implementation, monitoring and quality assurance mechanisms.