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Higher Education in India

Published On: 22 Jan 2013 | Last Updated On: 22 Jan 2013

India with its third largest higher education system will soon become an educational super power. The Indian higher education system has evolved in distinct and divergent streams over the decades and today Indian graduates are in high demand among the global employers. The system has expanded at a fast pace by nearly adding over 20,000 colleges and more than 8 million students in a decade from 2001-11.

Growth of Higher Education Institutions:

As per the reports from the University Grants Commission (UGC) presently there are 634 degree awarding institutions in the country with Tamil Nadu leading the chart with 59, followed by 58 in Uttar Pradesh, 48 in Rajasthan, 44 in Maharashtra and Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal having 42, 36, 28 and 26 respectively.

Click here for details on the growth and types of educational institutions in India

Enrolment rates in Higher Education:

While talking about the growth in student enrolment, the recent UGC report states that in 1950 the total number of students enrolled in higher education institutions was 3, 97,000. The growth witnessed is steady till 2001 and stood at 83, 99,000 but saw an unprecedented surge in next 10 years. In 2010-11 it stands at 1, 69, 75,000- a figure that has almost doubled in the last decade. Representing the enrolment of girls during the same period, the report states in 1950 the figure was 43, 000 and in 2001 it stood at 33, 06, 000 while in 2010-11 it reached 70, 49, 000.

Brief Overview of Indian Higher Education System:

The Ministry of Human Resource Development monitors the higher education indirectly. The University Grants Commission (India) is the main governing body at the tertiary level, which enforces the standards, advises the government and helps coordinate between the centre and the state. At the tertiary level, the Indian education system focuses primarily on science and technology. However, it is not limited to just that.

Today, Indian higher education institutes offer a wide array of courses in various streams and some of the courses have gained global recognition. The IITs and IIMs are recognized among the world’s best institutes. India has also gained a footing in the field of research. Several institutes of fundamental research such as Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Association for the Cultivation of Sciences (IACS) have been globally acclaimed for their research standards in basic sciences and mathematics.

Technical education and Open and distance learning also form a part of the higher education system.

Click here for the types of higher educational institutions in India

Technical education:

The beginning of formal technical education in India is dated back to the 19th century. Significant developments in technical education sector include:

  • Constitution of the Technical Education Committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) of 1943;
  • Preparation of the Sergeant Report of 1944; and
  • Formation of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 1945 by the Government of India.

The Indian institutes of Technology, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Information Technology and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology are deemed of national importance at the federal level. Central Universities such as Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi University, Mumbai University, University of Calcutta, etc. are too pioneers of technical education in the country.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE):

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was set-up in November 1945 as a national level Apex Advisory Body to conduct survey on the facilities on technical education and to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner. And to ensure the same, as stipulated in, the National Policy of Education (1986), AICTE be vested with statutory authority for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and standards, quality assurance through accreditation, funding in priority areas, monitoring and evaluation, maintaining parity of certification and awards and ensuring coordinated and integrated development and management of technical education in the country.

The purview of AICTE (the Council) covers programmes of technical education including training and research in Engineering, Technology, Architecture, Town Planning, Management, Pharmacy, Applied Arts and Crafts, Hotel Management and Catering Technology at different levels.

Source: AICTE official website

Open Universities (Distance learning):

Open universities are higher education learning centers that offer distance learning, while some also offer on-campus courses. Indian open universities offer distance education in academic, technical and professional streams. They offer diploma courses, certificate courses, undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes.

Over 14 lakh students are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level through open and distance learning at school level. At the higher education level, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) co-ordinates distance learning.

At higher education level, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) co-ordinates distance learning. It has a cumulative enrolment of about 15 lakh students. The Distance Education Council (DEC), an authority of IGNOU is co-coordinating 13 State Open Universities and 119 institutions of correspondence courses in conventional universities.

The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)formerly known as National Open School (NOS) was established in November, 1989 as an autonomous organization in pursuance of National Policy on Education 1986 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. NIOS is providing a number of vocational, life enrichment and community oriented courses besides general and academic courses at secondary and senior Secondary level. It also offers elementary level courses through its Open Basic Education Programmes (OBE).Government of India through a gazette notification vested NIOS with the authority to examine and certify learners registered with it up to pre degree level courses.

Source: NIOS official website

A wide array of courses is being cover by distance mode by a number of institutes that are expanding at a rapid speed.

The Indian education system is reformed over the years and is ensuring to adapt to all the major changes to be made to make it the leading education system. With enrollment rates in higher education witnessing a rise, both local and international students, India is hopeful to become an education hub.

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