The GER for female higher education first exceeded the GER for men in 2018-19. The trend continued even in 2019-2020 with the female GER crossing 27%. Three states / UT reported a GER of over 50% while Bihar remains at the bottom with a GER of almost half of the national average.
Access to tertiary education is measured in terms of gross enrollment ratio (GER), a statistical measure used in the education sector to indicate the level of education of a certain age group. It is calculated as the ratio of people enrolled in higher education institutions to the total population of people in the 18-23 age group. A high GER indicates a high degree of participation in tertiary education by age group.
In this story, we will examine the gross enrollment rate (GER) trends over the past 5 years across states, gender, and social categories. The AISHE survey covers all higher education institutions in the country, registered with the AISHE code in the AISHE portal. The data is based on the submission made by these institutions in a predefined survey form.
India’s GER has increased steadily, due to the substantial increase in “female GER”
Access to higher education has increased over the years, from 21.5% in 2012-13 to 27.1% in 2019-20, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education Survey (AISHE). The GER for the male population increased from 22.7% (in 2012-13) to 26.9% (2019-20) and for the female population from 20.1% (in 2012-12) to 27.3% (in 2019-20). The 2020 National Education Policy (NEP) aims to increase the total GER (including vocational education) to 50% by 2035.
The main highlights of the recent 2019-2020 AISHE enrollment report are:
- In terms of total enrollment (in absolute numbers), total enrollment in tertiary education was estimated at 38.5 million with 19.6 million men and 18.9 million women. Women represent 49% of the total workforce. Students from scheduled castes (SC) represent 14.7% and students from scheduled tribes (ST) 5.6% of the total enrollment. 37% of students belong to other backward classes (OBC). About 5.5% of students belong to a Muslim minority and 2.3% to other minority communities. Uttar Pradesh ranks first with the highest number of students, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu (in absolute numbers).
- The Gross Enrollment Rate (GER) in tertiary education in India is 27.1%, calculated for the 18-23 age group. The GER for the male population is 26.9% and for women it is 27.3%. For listed castes it is 23.4% and for listed tribes it is 18% compared to the national GER of 27.1%.
Highest GER in Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and lowest in Bihar
The highest GER is reported in Sikkim at 75.8%. The GER for other states is around and below 50%. Sikkim is followed by Chandigarh (52.1%), Tamil Nadu (51.4%) and Delhi (48%). The lowest GER was reported for UTs like Daman & Diu (6.1%), Lakshadweep (7.5%), Ladakh (7.9%) and the states of Bihar (14.5%) and Assam (17.3%). In other words, only 3 states / TUs are above the 50% TBS target set by NEP 2020.
States like Uttarakhand, Kerala, Manipur, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, J&K, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Punjab have reported GERs above the national average (27.1%).
States like Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Tripura, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and others reported GERs below the national average (27.1%). Among the large states, Bihar has the lowest GER at 14.5%, almost half the national average.
The GER of women registers a stronger increase in all social categories
Over the past 5 years, the overall GER has fallen from 24.5% to 27.1%. The male GER recorded a nominal increase from 25.4% (2015-16) to 26.9% (2019-20). However, the female GER recorded a relatively large increase from 23.5% (2015-16) to 27.3% (2019-20).
In the Scheduled Category (SC) category, the overall GER has fallen from 19.9% to 23.4% over the past 5 years. Male GER among SCs recorded a nominal increase from 20.8% (2015-16) to 22.8% (2019-20). However, the female GER recorded a relatively large increase from 19% (2015-16) to 24.1% (2019-20).
In the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, the overall GER has fallen from 14.2% to 18% over the past 5 years. Male GER among STs registered an increase from 15.6% (2015-16) to 18.2% (2019-20) and female GER also registered a significant increase of 12.9% (2015-16) at 17.7% (2019-20).
Male and female TBS among STs remains low compared to other social categories
The GER among social categories in major states shows that the enrollment rate for the listed caste and tribe categories remains below the total enrollment rate for the state in most cases.
However, there are some exceptions to this trend among large states. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, the TBS of TK has remained higher than the state TBS for the past 5 years. This is due to the small population of ST in the state (less than 1%). At the same time, the GER among state SCs has remained lower than the GER of the state. Likewise, in Gujarat, the GER of SC has remained higher than the GER of the state for the past 5 years and, at the same time, the GER of ST has remained below the GER of the state. STs make up about 15% of Gujarat’s population.
A breakdown of TBS by sex also suggests a similar pattern. The male and female GER among social categories in the major states shows that the enrollment rate for the listed caste and tribe categories remains lower than the total enrollment rate for the state in most cases. The female GER among STs has one of the lowest enrollment rates, compared to other groups, in most states.
However, there are a few exceptions to this trend, as we saw earlier. For example, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the male and female GER for TS remained higher than the state GER. STs only make up about 1% of the population in both states and, as a result, their GER is above the state average. In most other states, STs remain at the bottom of the graph in terms of GER. In other words, the GER among SC and ST is higher than the state average only where their share in the population is very low.
These trends indicate that although the female GER among STs has registered a significant increase over the years (as noted in the sections above), it is still far behind other social and gender categories by a significant margin.
The selected image: All India Survey of Higher Education Survey