The spurt in enrollment of Muslims and women in higher education could help address their socio-economic vulnerability

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New Delhi | Published: July 31, 2018 2:59 AM

The All India Survey of Higher Education 2016-17 showed continued higher enrolment of women and Muslims in higher education in the country.

Women’s enrolment has shown a 45% increase

There seems to be increasing awareness among Indians that education is their ticket out of economic and social vulnerability. The All India Survey of Higher Education 2016-17 showed continued higher enrolment of women and Muslims in higher education in the country. Women’s enrolment has shown a 45% increase, from 12 million in 2010-11 to 17.4 million in 2017-18. The number of Muslims who are enrolled in higher education institutes has also increased by 37% over the past five years, compared to the increase of 18% across all categories of students. In 2001, as per the Sachar report, while Muslims constituted just 6.3% of all graduates across the country—lower than the 8.2% share for SCs/STs—amongst the 20-year-plus population of Muslims, the community’s graduates accounted for just 3.6%. Their gross enrolment ratio in higher education at this time was 5.2%, also the least amongst all socio-religious categories. The recent upsurge in higher education enrolment statistics, for both Muslim men and women (the surge for Muslim women beats the surge for men), holds great promise for the community’s future. The ministry’s first-time detailing of the number of teachers in the country has revealed that 56.8% of faculty members are from the general category, with SCs comprising of 8.6% and STs 2.27%, below the reservation quota of 15% and 7.5%, respectively.

While the share of women students in PhD, MPhil and PG enrolment was less than half that of male students’ in 2010-11, female students outnumbered male students for MPhil and PG in 2017-18, with 64% MPhil students and 53.8% of PG students being women. The survey also shows that women have not only retained their dominance in postgraduate science, but their participation has increased sharply in five years. In fact, their enrolment in MSc programmes is now as strong as their presence in MA courses. The influx of women in higher education, however, seems to have changed little for the engineering and technology disciplines, which continue to have the lowest female participation. For example, BTech courses have 21.19 lakh enrolled students of which roughly 72% were men. Similarly, in BE, out of the 18.2 lakh enrolled students, 71% students were male. PhD scholars account for less than 0.5% of the total higher education enrolment among students, revealing India’s staggering human resource deficit in research.

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