Indian higher education institutes to have more students


New Delhi : The Indian government has drawn up an ambitious plan to increase the number of students in its institutes of higher education. Over the next five years, the government plans to raise the enrolment in these institutions from the present 11 percent to 15 percent.

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To achieve the goal, the country’s Planning Commission has drawn up a road map that will focus on creating new central- and state-funded universities and colleges with a special emphasis on reducing regional, gender and social inequalities.

The Planning Commission has earmarked a sum of Rs. 84,743 crore ($21.50 billion) as the outlay under the 11th five year plan for this.

But the human resource development (HRD) ministry has sought Rs. 93,000 crore ($23.55 billion) to implement the schemes laid out for the growth of higher education.

HRD Minister Arjun Singh told the Planning Commission last month: “I am fully aware of the competing claims on the scarce resources but I would strongly urge that the 11th plan outlay for higher education be raised to at least Rs. 93,000 crore.”

This, he said, was necessary to ensure proper and timely implementation of all the announcements contained in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day address.

A source in the ministry said: “The proposed outlay is expected to be ratified at the meeting of the National Development Council in December.”

The government is keen to provide access and affordability to higher education in districts having a high concentration of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minorities.

Economist Yogendra K. Alagh has informed the HRD ministry that the existing levels of enrolment in higher education were particularly low in areas where the poor live.

Alagh had emphasised the need for a central university in each state and a good college in each district.

The Planning Commission now wants to provide financial support to institutions located in remote areas.

In his address at a recently concluded Unesco meet in Paris, Arjun Singh had underlined the government’s aim to increase the enrolment ratio in institutes of higher learning to 15 percent by 2012.