The University Grants Commission (UGC), the highest regulatory body for higher education in the country, will launch a massive student aid programme under the 12th Five Year Plan to increase gross enrolment ratio (GER) to the targeted 30 per cent by 2020.
UGC chairman (acting) Prof Ved Prakash on Sunday said that the programme would be instrumental in increasing the GER to 30 per cent by 2017. Presently, India’s GER in higher education is 17.87 per cent, among the lowest in the world.
“Under the 12th plan, we will launch a massive student aid programme that will ensure students get adequate help to meet their post admission requirements at all levels—undergraduate, postgraduate and research. If we don’t do this, there will be no transition of students from undergraduate to postgraduate and finally to research,” said Prof Prakash in his address at the 5th accreditation award ceremony at the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC).
Apart from creating more access to higher education, Prof Prakash said the UGC will focus on directing students to appropriate programmes. “By 2017, there is no doubt that India’s GER will reach 30 per cent,” he said.
According to a recent UGC survey on higher education access, out of 119 million students in the cohort age group of 18 to 22 years, 20 million are enrolled in conventional programmes and 4.6 million are enrolement in distance education. Projections show at the end of the 12th plan, the total cohort age group will come down to 118 million, with enrolment in conventional programmes increased to 29 million and distance education enrolment increased to 6.3 million.
“The concern here is, where are these children going to come from? They must come from the marginal sections of the society. Also, if there is no increase in enrolment, how can we bring in more teachers?” he said.
The Planning Commission on Saturday laid down the 12th plan period outlay for higher education at `1,10,700 crore, an increase of 178 per cent. With institutes like Delhi University and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) yet to be accredited, Prof Prakash said the UGC (Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Universities) Regulations 2011 would be passed soon.