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Indian Higher Education Sector – Low Gross Enrolment Ratio
India has the third largest volume of enrollments in higher education, after China and the US.
GER compares poorly to its global counterparts. Furthermore, high dropout rates in primary education have
affected the enrollments in higher education. Drop out rates in Grades 1-5 is 29%; in Grade 6-8 is 50% and in
Grades 9-12 is 62%. The planning commission is targeting a GER of 15.5% by 2012 which is an increase from 11% in 2008
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has recommended that the government will need to establish
1500 universities to meet their GER target. Thus, India’s low GER provides opportunity for new and existing
players in the market including skill development and vocational training institutions (Refer to exhibit 9). The
expenditure required in higher education will have to increase to 1.5% of the GDP from the existing level of
0.7%. This translates into a huge potential for about 22mn students enrolling in higher education institutions by
2012. The public spending is focused more on primary education leading to underdeveloped higher education
sector in India. Public spend on education in India amounts to 5.2% of the world’s cumulative public spend, but
India is home to 20% of the population in the target group. The investment in the higher education sector increased from 0.67% of the total GDP in FY07 to 0.7% of the total GDP in FY08 whereas the share of higher
education expenditure as a percentage of total education expenditure has declined from 17.4 in FY06 to 19.1%
in FY08. Lack of higher education infrastructure has made it extremely difficult for India to act as a hub for
professional education. The current higher education infrastructure can admit only 7-8% of the college students.
India attracts 20,000 foreign students yearly, whereas China attracts more than 0.15mn students annually. Even
though public expenditure on education has been rising, the investment per student is one of the lowest among
other major countries
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The Shruth & Smith Foundation is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization committed to work towards resolving enduring problems in social, educational and rural sectors that requires sustained effort and determination.