Thursday, May 25, 2006

What Percentage of 17-23 Year Olds are Enrolled in Undergraduate Courses in India?

Yesterday during the lunch time I was having this conversation with a professor about the reservations. He said, "... to give you some perspective Mridula, only 9% of the 20 year olds are enrolled in universities." My mouth was hanging open and it took some time to digest it. I asked him where I could find this figure? He said if I would search on the net, I would find it.

So here it is, from the horse's mouth and the actual figure, according to Arjun Singh, is still lower.


TO BE ANSWERED ON 14.12.2004




Will the Minister of HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT be pleased to state:-

(a) the average annual number of candidates getting enrolled against under graduate courses at present;

(b) the percentage of such students to the total population of the country;

(c) whether the Government has set any target to increase this number; and

(d) if so, the details thereof and the time by which the target is likely to be achieved?



(a) & (b): An average of about 78.50 lakhs students were enrolled annually through formal system of education for undergraduate courses in universities/colleges during the last four years, apart from enrollment in distance education. This is about 6-7 % of the population in the relevant age group of 17-23 years.

(c) & (d): The aim of the Government is to increase the enrollment against undergraduate courses to 10% by the end of Xth Plan period (2002-2007). This includes both formal and distance education.

(I have slightly changed the formatting of the original document listed above, otherwise some of the material was reflecting in very small fonts on my post, the original document can be found from the link given above or from here.)

Now, I have a few questions.

  • Who will provide education to the rest of the 17-23 year olds who want to enroll for higher education, irrespective of the caste they belong to?
  • What are the plans of the HRD Ministry to do something about increasing these numbers apart from recommending reservations that will affect even a smaller percentage of this 6-7% of the youth population?
  • Will that bring in social equality we all are looking for or is this enough to bring social equality?
  • Is 10% growth target fair?
  • Or does this 10% aspiration reflects a severe lack of vision on part of the HRD ministry and would translate in very limited opportunities for today's youth in general?
  • What do the figures look like in other countries? If you can point out to any online resources for this point, I would be so grateful.


Blogger Abi said...

Our education pipe is leaky. About 50% drop out by Class VIII. Yet more drop out by Class XII (I don't have this figure). Further, the pass percentage in Class XII is about 60%. Thus, the fraction of students in each age group that graduates from higher secondary schools is probably in the range of 20 to 25% or so.

Thus, 6 to 7 percent of our late teens in college would imply that about 30 percent of our school graduates make it to college. This is not a bad figure; in Western countries, this fraction is between 25 and 50 percent.

Except, of course, in the West, they manage to get a lot more students through high school!

Looking at the problem this way, it's clear that the massive leak in our schools has to be plugged. Urgently.

Also, college education is expensive, and requires high level of commitment. Further, a huge majority of jobs doesn't require college-level skills. Thus, I wouldn't worry too much about whether everyone has access to college education. I will be happy if our government fulfills its promise to universalize primary education (ages 6 to 14).

5/25/2006 10:21 PM  
Blogger Mridula said...

Abi, all I am saying is that given the miniscule percentage that is going to be affected by the reservations brought in to bring about 'social equality' seems very inadequate in the light of above figures.

And what shocks me more is there does not seem to be any grand vision about higher education apart from increasing it to 10%. That is more worrying to me. I would like to see better plans from MHRD for the higher education sector too, though primary education being the urgent need.

5/25/2006 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anirudh said...

I wish college education wasn't necessary. These days everybody wants to get a coll. education if it is possible, regardless of everything else since it helps your job prospects. I wish we could change that.

5/26/2006 12:01 AM  
Blogger Mridula said...

I agree with you Anirudh, but such are the ground realities as of now.

5/26/2006 10:48 AM  
Blogger editindia said...

Very interesting post.

5/27/2006 12:47 AM  
Blogger Mridula said...

It was eye opening data for me Editindia.

5/28/2006 3:27 PM  
Blogger abhinav said...

Check out
this link for statistics in USA. 28 percent complete a bachelors degree but 57 percent complete some sort of higher degree , which I asume means associate degrees from community colleges.

For UK,

check out
. It says that 43 percent of people between ages of 17-30 attend universities.

5/29/2006 9:51 AM  
Blogger Mridula said...

Abhinav, thanks a lot for providing me the figures. You have some very interesting posts at your blog.

5/29/2006 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Veena Shivanna said...

Very thoughful post. I was quite happy to see recent headlines which said about removing the creamy layer from the reservation band. I would say I was pretty surprised to see the figures about the school dropouts!! its sad though. My friend circle is so brilliant & my dad was so strict that I always been in those first few in class. People used to steal my notes during my bachelors :-)
well, let me not boast in front of a person who keep seeing such plenty of people day in & out! I always wondered where does the bloggers really get these food for thought. Recently I saw a post on bellurs blog which spoke about smells where he listed out all the best smells under the universe.I would read the post & utter, what a brilliant idea .. I would many times get that idea only when I read it on other's blog, & thats where creativity comes in. isn't it?

10/25/2006 3:35 AM  

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