Indian Higher Education Statistics

Latest official data on students and colleges in India indicates a healthy growth in terms of institutional capacity, according to UGC. Between 2004 and 2009, number of colleges increased by nearly 9,000 and student enrollment increased by 3.65 million students.

However, this healthy growth in numbers has its share of paradoxes and problems. It becomes obvious that in comparison with other growth indicators like GDP or number of cars, higher education has seriously lagged behind. Yet, there are signs of overcapacity and disillusion.

  • The rate of growth of teachers (faculty) was slower than the number of universities and colleges. This has created a shortage of qualified faculty in higher education institutions.
  • Number of students have grown at a slower pace as compared to the number of universities and colleges. This has resulted in oversupply of seats and many of which remain vacant.
  • Number of colleges have grown at a rate slower than the growth of GDP resulting in talent shortage and continued demand for talented and skilled workforce.
Does that mean India needs many more colleges to meet the growth rate of the economy? Yes. But, then why are seats remaining vacant. The answer lies in what is not captured by these statistics of growth and that is quality and employability. Students and families are increasingly seeking education which may improve their prospects of employability and upward mobility. Institutions and policy-makers need to listen to the qualitative dimension of the demand and adapt to it to remain relevant and competitive.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha


  1. Dear Rahul,

    this is an interesting post. Would you please quote the source. It'd be great to read some more information like this, if you post any. 🙂

  2. excellent article, it might be a worthwhile thought that both at the centre and at the state level, it must be a minimum criteria that deemed universities and institutions (say with a minimum of 4-5 college)need to compulsory have a training program for teachers who can take the mantle of teaching higher education topics.

  3. Interesting statistics. Particulary unutilized capacity certainly seems an area of concern. Perhaps seats remaining unutilized are due to quality issues. Institutions which are unable to produce output which is acceptable to industry will fail to attract students. Quality of faculty has an important bearing on the quality of students. Quite a few from industry, with industry and professional experience (and they could significantly contribute to industry readiness of the students) wish to participate in the education sector but I am told that there is a significant mismatch in salaries and this discourages many from industry to cross the fence. Some thing to think about…..

  4. Dr. Rahul,

    A similar trend is occurring in the United States where displaced autoworkers are rapidly enrolling in colleges to reinvent themselves into new careers.

  5. Dr. Rahul,

    It is an interesting article. Maybe it would be nice to give the statistics of the real GDP growth, not only the nominal GDP growth? Because if I use world bank data in 2000 dollars, the real growth was of 8.6 % per year during this period while the increase of students was of 6.5%. I don't know if the difference is significant?


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