University system

University matters

Print edition : March 18, 2016
Higher education has been growing from strength to strength in recent years, with State public and private universities dominating the scene.

CENTRAL universities are suddenly in the eye of a storm in the country. First it was the University of Hyderabad, where the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula led to nationwide student protests and drew universal condemnation of the authorities, and now the nation is gripped by the turn of events in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). All eyes are on our public universities and the state they are in.

Statistics from the All India Survey on Higher Education 2014-15 (Provisional), released by the Department of Higher Education under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, showed that there are a total of 757 universities in the country, of which 43 are Central universities. State public universities, at 316, accounted for the lion's share of universities, followed by 267 privately managed universities (including deemed and government-aided universities) and 69 institutes of national importance.

The number of universities has been steadily rising in recent years; it rose from 667 in 2012-13 to 723 in 2013-14.

In 2014-15, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of universities at 64 each, followed by Tamil Nadu (58), Karnataka (51) and Gujarat (49). Gujarat and Karnataka had the highest number of State public universities (25 each), followed by Uttar Pradesh (24) and West Bengal (22), while Rajasthan was the top State in the number of private universities with 32, followed by Uttar Pradesh (20) and Gujarat (18). The southern States had a total of 179 universities, accounting for nearly 24 per cent of all universities in the country, while Assam and the northeastern States, with a combined 57, accounted for 7.5 per cent.

Data for enrolment by category showed that those not belonging to the Scheduled Castes (S.C.s), the Scheduled Tribes (S.T.s) or the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) dominated higher education in the country, occupying 60 per cent of seats in all universities, 72 per cent in Central universities and 58 per cent in State public universities. Members of the S.C. communities accounted for just 10 per cent of all university seats nationwide, S.T.s 4 per cent and OBCs 26 per cent. Within Central universities, their representation was 11 per cent, 4 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

According to Statewise statistics for enrolment at the post-graduate level and above, Tamil Nadu was far ahead of the rest of India with more than 2.81 lakh students, followed by Maharashtra (2.15 lakh) and West Bengal (1.70 lakh).

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