Who’s Studying: Profile Of Higher Education–II

Who’s Studying: Profile Of Higher Education–II

Despite all kinds of limitations, a steady process of social change is taking place in our colleges and universities.

VrijendraUpdated: Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 01:54 AM IST
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Who’s Studying: Profile Of Higher Education–II | Representational Image

In the previous article, I summed up data about the institutional network in India, based on the annual survey of higher education, 2020-21. In this part, I will summarise the composition of students enrolled, courses they choose, teaching and non-teaching staff pattern and the number of foreign students our colleges and universities attract and from which countries.

In the year ending December 31, 2020, the total estimated number of students enrolled in institutions of higher education was 4.13 crore out of which about 90.84 lakh students were in universities and their constituent units, 2.95 crore were in colleges and 22.66 lakh students were in standalone institutions. About 2.01 crore (48.67%) students were female. Six states, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan accounted for 53.17% of all students. In 7 states, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Assam, Uttarakhand, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, female enrolment was more than male enrolment: the gap was the largest in Kerala.

Out of total students, 14.2% were SC students, 5.8% were ST students and 35.8% were OBC students. Further, 4.6% students were from the Muslim community and 2% students were from other minority communities. Notably, among all minority communities, the number of female students was higher than male students. There were about 79000 students, with disabilities: about 49000 male and 30000 female.

A vast majority of students, about 3.26 crore (78.9%) were enrolled in undergraduate courses, followed by 47.16 lakhs (11.4%) enrolled at post-graduation level and about 2.13 lakhs students enrolled for Ph D. About 29.79 lakh students (7.2%) were enrolled for diploma courses, largely technical/polytechnic, nursing and teacher training courses.

About 1.04 crore students — the highest among all courses — were enrolled for BA, out of which 52% were female followed by BSc with 49.12 lakh students (52.3% female) and BCom with 43.22 lakh students (48.5% female). BTech had 23.2 lakh students enrolled (28.7% female) and Bachelor of Engineering had 13.42 lakh students (28.5% female).

At post-graduate level, the largest number of students, about 9.42 lakh, were enrolled for social sciences (56.5% female) followed by management with 6.86 lakh students (43.1% female) and science with 6.73 lakh students (43.1% female). Commerce had 5.36 lakh students (66.5% female), Indian languages with 3.20 lakh students and Education with 2.06 lakh students (64.4% female).

At PhD level, maximum number of students were enrolled in Engineering and Technology with about 57000 students (33.3% female), closely followed by Science with 49000 students (48.8% female).

Notably, different types of government universities constituting 58.1% of total universities accounted for 73.1% of total enrolment while 40% private universities accounted for only 26.3% of total enrolment of 90.84 lakh students. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are top three states in terms of state-wise enrolment.

Out of total enrolment of 2.95 crore students in affiliated and constituent colleges of central and state universities, government colleges constituting only 21.4% of all colleges had 34.5% of total enrolment, 13.6% private (aided) colleges had 21.2% enrolment whereas 65% private (unaided) colleges had only 44.4% of total enrolment.

There are about 21.24 lakh students enrolled in stand-alone institutions out of which 64% are male. In polytechnics, out of 13.91 lakh students, 81% are male. Out of 3.58 lakh students in nursing, 83% are female. In teacher-training institutions, out of total enrolment of 2.47 lakh students, 63% are female.

The total number of foreign students in 2020-21 was about 48000. They come from 163 countries. Nepal contributed about 28% of all foreign students, Afghanistan 8.4% and Bangladesh 5.71% About 76% students were enrolled in undergraduate courses and 16% in post-graduate courses. The largest number of foreign students were enrolled in B.Tech. courses (11245) , followed by B. Sc.(3439).

Remarkably, 11% of total enrolment in higher education was in distance education with Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi together contributing almost 40% of all distant education students. Distance education contributed almost 50% of university enrolment.

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), the proportion of students from all young people in the 18-23 years age group was 27.3. It was 23.1 for SC students and 18.9 for ST students. GER for male population was 26.7 at all-India level, 22.4 for male SC students and 18.8 for ST male students. It was 27.9 for female population at all-India level, 23.9 for SC female and 19.1 for ST female students.

For the year 2020-21, the total number of teachers in higher education institutions was 15.51 lakhs out of which 57.1% were male. At all-India level, 56.2% of all teachers belonged to general category, 32.2% were from OBC groups, 9.1% were from SC communities and 2.5% were from ST communities. About 5.6% teachers were from Muslim community and 8.8% were from other minority communities.

In terms of gender distribution of teachers, at all-India level, there were 75 female teachers per 100 male teachers, for SC category, there were 60 female teachers per 100 teachers and for ST and OBC, it was 75 and 71 female teachers per 100 male teachers respectively. For Muslim community, it was 59 female teachers per 100 male teachers while for other minority communities, it was 150 female teachers per 100 male teachers. Post-wise, there were 40 female professors per 100 male professors, 60 females per 100 male Readers/Associate Professors and 79 females per 100 Assistant Professors.

Total number of teachers in universities was 2.36 lakhs out of which 62.2% were male. Out of total 11.52 lakh teachers in colleges, 56.2% were male teachers. In standalone institutions, out of total 1.63 lakh teachers, 56.7% were male teachers. In polytechnics, there were only 48 females per 100 male teachers, 69 females per 100 male teachers in teacher-training institutions and 315 females per 100 male teachers in nursing courses, the highest among all types of teachers.

The total number of non-teachings posts in higher education institutions was 13.95 lakhs out of which 65.9% were male. 56.5% non-teaching staff was from general category, 24.7% from OBC, 14.4% from SC and 4.4% was from ST communities. There were 85 females per 100 male staff members – the highest among all – from other minority communities while from the Muslim community, the ratio was the lowest at 34 females per 100 male members. The ratio was 52 females per 100 males for general category, 60 for SC 58 for ST and 64 for OBCs.

These data inform us that about 20 to 25% of all eligible young people across different categories now access higher education in some form or the other; girls are not far behind. However, we find that most students only study for a general bachelor’s degree. Further, a majority of students still prefer to study in a government college even though a majority of colleges are now private and unaided. Our institutions of higher education are no place for students with disabilities or for foreign students: in each case, the numbers are negligible. A majority of our college teachers and non-teaching staff still come from privileged castes though the representation of other groups is now also significant.

In other words, a profile of higher education in the country tells us that despite all kinds of limitations, a steady process of social change is taking place in our colleges and universities. Further, the role of public colleges and universities remains critical in this process.

Vrijendra taught in a Mumbai college for more than 30 years and has been associated with democratic rights groups in the city

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