“India today possesses one of the largest higher education systems in the world and ranks second in terms of absolute numbers of student enrolment. No doubt that there has been a healthy consistent growth in the number of institutions and student enrolment over the past six decades. However, we still lag behind the rest of the world with a low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education of less than 20 per cent, unacceptably low when compared with the world figure of nearly 30 per cent and worse with some of our partners and competitors in the community of nations, 84 per cent in the US, 59 per cent in the UK, 55 per cent in Japan, and 28 per cent in China,” said Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Higher Education and Development.
The Minister added, “Education will be the most important driver for our nation's social, economic and political transformation. A well educated population, equipped with the relevant knowledge, attitudes and skills, is essential for economic and social development in the twenty-first century.”
“For India to sustain its growth momentum and to strengthen its competitiveness, a world-class higher education system is an important pre-requisite. Global experiences indicate a positive correlation between GER and economic growth in a country and point to the need for a minimum of 30 per cent GER in higher education to sustain economic growth. To meet this minimum requirement there has to be a sharp improvement in the quality and quantity of institutions of higher education. This will require significant investment and focus on faculty and research. The government will expedite the work on setting up of a National Mission for Faculty Development,” added Tharoor.
“This reach of education should now be extended universally to all citizens without exception. Second, this expansion must be accompanied by adherence to global standards of quality in both teaching and research. And third, the system of education must be closely aligned with the needs of our rapidly evolving and globalizing economy for a skilled and adaptable workforce,” he added further.
The Minister further added by saying that the Twelfth Five Year Plan aims to increase the percentage of the workforce with formal skills to 25 (Y0 at the end of the Plan period. It is estimated that 50-70 million jobs will be created in India over the next five years and about 75-90 per cent of these additional employment avenues will require some vocational training.
“It is further estimated that in India, about 12 million people join the workforce each year, and they comprise a few highly skilled workers and many more who are skilled, semi-skilled and un- skilled. Considering that even large sections of our existing workforce would also have to be trained, we are required to enhance our vocaional education and technical education capacity to about 15 million per year,” said the HRD Minister.
“The demand for a quality skilled workforce and an environment for impending policy and regulatory change encourages, indeed requires, greater private sector participation. Private unaided institutions and universities are the fastest growing segment of Indian higher education and account for a 59 per cent share of total enrolments in 2012. For the rationalization of the student financing and education financing mechanism, top priority must be accorded to the setting up of a National Higher Education Finance Corporation (NHEFC) in the 12th Year Plan,” he said.