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Higher education in India UPSC NOTE

 Current scenarios

  • The publication of exam results triggers a rush for seats in higher education institutions, and, in turn, another series of examinations to qualify for these. 

  • This transition to higher education is important as it determines the quantity and quality of human capital, which is vital for economic growth

  • In developing economies, including India, this transition is plagued by a mismatch between demand and supply

  • The extent of excess seats in some courses and institutions, and shortages in some others, determines the magnitude of exclusion in the system

  • Persistence of exclusion leads to a scenario of courses in some disciplines emerging as the last resort for higher education for a large section of students, culminating in the creation of a reservoir of the excluded

  • Recent trends in India reveal that the social sciences are turning out to be one such large reservoir

  • Demand-supply mismatches in higher education arise due to the incongruence between aspirations of students and parents, and the availability of courses and seats, which is determined by market forces in private institutions and government policies in public institutions. 

  • Perpetual discrepancies in the system lead to three types of exclusions: exclusion due to excessive competition; exclusion due to financial factors, and exclusion based on subjects and courses of study

Trends affecting the transition

  • According to the 2021-22 All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), the growth of enrolment during the period 2017-18 to 2021-22 for the undergraduate (UG) level is 4.1% and the post graduate level, 5.9%. 

  • The Bachelor of Arts (BA) programme, which has the highest enrolment at the UG level, registered an increase of around 15% from 2017-18. 

  • There is an increase of 26.5% in the Master of Arts (MA) programmes from 2017-18 to 2021-22. 

  • The share of enrolment in the BA programme in total enrolment of BA, BSc and BCom is 51% in regular mode and 75% in distance mode, while the corresponding share for MA is 12% (regular) and 42% (distance). 

  • The larger share and a lower transition indicates that BA programmes are turning out to be a generic pool, accommodating a large number of students who are excluded for a variety of reasons.


  • Quantity expansion to accommodate excluded aspirants of other disciplines needs to be followed up with a concerted effort for quality improvement

  • Teaching quality enhancement and course contents needs to be accorded top priority in such a mission. 

  • An obsession with policy and empirical skills has pushed some disciplines and programmes to the periphery. 

  • Financial exclusion has resulted in the widening of inequalities and the creation of elite enclaves of education in the studies such as social sciences

  • The aspiration of reaping demographic dividend rests on tapping a vast pool of youth studying the social sciences, which assumes significance in an era of social changes and rapid technological advancements such as generative artificial intelligence



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Higher education in India UPSC NOTE
Higher education in India UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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