Doubling higher education enrolment to meet target will cost R9.5 lakh cr by 2020

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: May 2 2012, 17:16pm hrs
Indias target of doubling the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education by 2020 will come at a price of R9.5 lakh crore and require an additional 10,510 technical institutions, 15,530 colleges and 521 universities. GER is the number of actual students as a share of all potential students.

The human resource development (HRD) ministry has set a goal of doubling GER to 30% by 2020 from the current 15%. The ratio was approximately 12% in 2008-09 only a fourth of the average GER in developed countries (54.6%), even worse than developing countries in transition, which have 36.5%.

The investment required in higher education is more than R9 lakh crore if we want to achieve 30% GER. This includes the cost of setting up more institutes, infrastructure and salaries, said a ministry official. These are the estimates of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration.

At present, Indias higher education system has 544 universities including 42 central, 261 state, 73 private and 130 deemed ones, and close to 31,32 colleges. Currently, 14.6 million students are enrolled in higher education. An additional capacity of about 25 million seats will be required over the next decade to meet the increased demand.

According to Ernst & Young, in the last decade, the number of universities in the country grew at a CAGR of 7.5% as against the 4.7% growth observed from 1951-2001. The number of colleges have grown at a CAGR of 11% in 2001-2011 as against 6.1% during 1951-2001.

The GER in the 18-24 age group is about 13% and it is a summation of individual GERs in various disciplines like arts, science, commerce, engineering, polytechnics, distance education, vocational education and medicine.

The 11th Five-Year Plan had set a target of taking higher education GER to 15% by 2011-12 and the University Grants Commission (UGC) had said that to achieve this target, a significant increase in allocation to higher education, close to the targeted 1% of the GDP on higher education, would be required.

The funds requirement includes faculty costs as well.

A recent task force of the HRD ministry said the lecturer-to-student ratio in the country is 1:20.9, against 1:13.5 recommended by the University Grants Commission at 1:12 for postgraduate students and 1:15 for undergraduates. The shortage of faculty stands at 3 lakh at present.