Tertiary Education In India


The key to harnessing India’s demographic dividend is education. Indian higher education currently the third largest in the world, is likely to surpass the US in the next five years and China in the next 15 years to be the largest system of higher education in the world. Indian higher education has a complex structure riddled with many contradictions, still has great possibilities.


Telangana Govt.has planned to estb.India’s 1st Dalit University , which is said to be a part of Govt. Policy of providing free education to students from KG to PG from weaker sections of society.


Some of the major constitutional provisions on education in India are as follows:


  • 21A Right to education
    [Inserted by the 86th Amendment in December, 2002 and passed by the Parliament in July, 2009. The provisions of the Act came into force from 1st April, 2010]



  • Article 28:
    According to our Constitution article 28 provides freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions.
  • Article 29:
    This article provides equality of opportunity in educational institutions.
  • Article 30:
    It accepts the right of the minorities to establish and administrate educational institutions.
  • 41 Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases



  • Article 45 of the Directive Principles of State Policy that, “The state shall endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory Education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.”



  • Article 46:
    It provides for special care to the promotion of education and economic interests of the scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and the weaker sections of society.
  • Article 337:
    This provides for special provision with respect to educational grants for the benefit of Anglo-Indian community.
  • Article 350A:
    This article relates to facilities for instruction in mother tongue at primary stage.

    Article 350B:

    It provides for a special offer for linguistic minorities.

    Article 351:

    This article relates to the development and promotion of the Hindi language.

  • The seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution contains legislative powers under three lists viz. The Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List



The education in India has a rich and interesting history. It is believed that in the ancient days, the education was imparted orally by the sages and the scholars and the information was passed on from one generation to the other.

After the development of letters, it took the form of writing using the palm leaves and the barks of trees and helped in spreading the written literature.

Later, the Gurukul system of education came into existence , which were the Traditional Hindu residential schools of learning.

In the first millennium and the few centuries preceding, there was a flourishing of higher education at Nalanda, Takshashila University, Ujjain, and Vikramshila Universities.The Nalanda, being the biggest centre, had all the branches of knowledge, and housed up to 10,000 students at its peak.

The British records reveal that the education was widespread in the 18th century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most regions of the country

The present system of education was introduced and founded by the British in the 20th century, by the recommendations of Macaulay. It has western style and content.

In 1964, the Education Commission started functioning with 16 members of which 11 were Indian experts and 5 were foreign experts

Later in 1976, the education became a joint responsibility of both the state and the Centre through a constitutional amendment.

The central government through the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Department of Education and the governments at the states formulated the education policy and planning.

NPE 1986 and revised PoA 1992 envisioned that free and compulsory education should be provided for all children up to 14 years of age.

In November 1998, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced setting up of Vidya Vahini Network to link up universities, UGC and CSIR. The general marks-based education system is now being replaced by the grades-based system.

Importance of education

  • Education is a critical tool for developing a modern economy, a just society and a vibrant polity. It provides skills and competencies for economic well-being and social mobility.
  • Education strengthens democracy by imparting to citizens the tools needed to fully participate in the governance process. It also acts as an integrative force in society, imparting values that foster social cohesion and national identity.
  • A well educated population, equipped with the relevant knowledge, attitudes and skills is essential for economic and social development in this century.

Quality Education

Imparting quality education to our youth is one of the highest forms of service, an individual or institution can render to the nation.
Its importance was best described by the Greek philosopher, Diogenes, who said ‘the foundation of every state is the education of its youth’.

Higher Education in  India


  • The main governing body at the tertiary level is the University Grants Commission, which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state.[
  • Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by 12 autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission (UGC)



UGC ::: The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956,  under Ministry of Human Resource Development, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education. It provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognised universities and colleges. Prof. Ved Prakash is the incumbent Chairman of UGC, India. Its headquarters is in New Delhi, and six regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore.



  • As per the latest 2011 Census, about 8.15% (68 millions) of Indians are graduates, with Union Territories of Chandigarh and Delhi topping the list with 24.65% and 22.56% of their population being graduates respectively.
  • As of 2016, India has 799 universities, with a break up of 44 central universities, 540 state universities, 122 deemed universities, 90 private universities, 5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act, and 75 Institutes of National Importance which include AIIMS, IIT’s and NIT’s among others.


GoI Schemes to promote higher education

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

The ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has launched a programme called Unnat Bharat Abhiyan with an aim to connect institutions of higher education, including Indian Institutes of Technology, National institute of technology and indian institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) with local communities to address the development challenges through appropriate technologies.

  • Swayam Prabha

Government has approved a project to launched ‘SWAYAM’  Prabha’-a project for operationalising 32 direct to home (DTH) Television Channels for providing high quality educational content to all teachers, students and citizens across the country interested in lifelong learning. The main feature of SWAYAM Prabha is based on course contents covering diverse disciplines such as arts, science, commerce, social science, performing arts etc and also covers all level of education.

  • UGC initiatives

Anti Ragging cell , anti discrimination cell , barrier free access to specially abled students , Gender sensitization cell

  • Higher education financial agency , for creating capital assets in higher education Institutes

It would be finance academic and research infrastructure by 10 year loan.

  • Global initiative of academic network (GIAN)
  • National Institution ranking framework
  • A web – portal Vidya Lakshmi has launched under Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram to provide educational loans for higher education ( 1st of its kind )



  • However, our higher education system continues to be afflicted with the three problems of access, equity and quality.
    Wide disparities exist in enrolment percentages among the States and between urban and rural areas.
  • Disadvantaged sections of society and women have significantly lower enrolments than the national average.
  • The higher education sector is plagued by a shortage of well-trained faculty, poor infrastructure and outdated and irrelevant curricula.
  • The use of technology remains limited and standards of research and teaching at Indian universities are far below international standard.
  • Curricular reforms leading to regular revision and upgrading of curricula, introduction of semester system, choice-based credit system, and examination reforms are yet to take place in higher educational institutions across the country.
  • Exceptions apart, majority of our higher education institutions perform poorly in the area of quality on a relative global scale.
  • Our system turns out nearly seven lakh science and engineering graduates every year. However, industry surveys show that only 25 percent of these are employable, without further training. The picture is more dismal in other disciplines if a recent, non-official, employability report is to be believed.
  • In recent years, the massive expansion in enrolment in higher education in the country has resulted in unbearable burden being put on the physical and pedagogic infrastructure of colleges and universities


This is reflected in overcrowded classrooms and distortion of desirable student-teacher ratios, overall shortage of teaching and tutorial space, overloading of laboratory and library facilities, and often a lowering of quality of teaching. All these issues require urgent correctives.

SOLUTIONS (committee recommendation)

(In 2009, MHRD(Ministry of Human Resource Development) set up a Committee on Higher Education (Yashpal Committee) with Pal as the chairman, for examining reform of higher education in India. In its report, the Committee laid emphasis on the idea of a university, and advocated a number of major structural changes. However, it is not clear whether the Government intends to take any action on the basis of the report.)

Curricular and academic reforms are required to improve student choices, with a fine balance between the market oriented professional and liberal higher education.
Higher education must be aligned to the country’s economy and also to the needs of the global market.
Innovative and relevant curricula should be designed to serve different segments of the job market or provide avenues for self-employment.
Emphasis must be given to the expansion of skill-based programmes in order to make our youth employable in the job market.
Fact remains that today, around 60% of total enrolments in higher education are in private institutions. Some of them excel in their chosen areas.

There also exist legitimate concerns about many of these institutions being substandard, exploitative and suffering from the general shortcomings mentioned earlier.

Governance reforms are required to enable these institutions to have their autonomy to develop distinctive strengths, while being held accountable for ensuring quality and fulfilling their responsibility to society.


Demographic Dividend and education:

  • India has a younger population not only in comparison to advanced economies but also in relation to the large developing countries.
  • In 2011, around 50% of our population was less than 24 years of age. By 2020, around two thirds of our population will be in the working age group (15-64 years).
  • Over the next 20 years, labour force in India is expected to increase, while it will decline in industrialized countries and in China.
    This demographic structure presents us with an opportunity of a potential ‘demographic dividend’, which tapped, could add to our growth potential, provided two conditions are fulfilled.
    First, higher levels of health, education and skill development are achieved.
    Second, an environment is created in which the economy not only grows rapidly, but also enhances good quality employment/livelihood opportunities to meet the needs and aspirations of the youth.
  • It is thus evident that education is a vital ingredient for actualizing the ‘demographic dividend’ and for achieving higher, sustainable and more inclusive economic growth.
  • India has the potential to capture a higher share of global knowledge-based work, for example by increasing its exports of knowledge-intensive goods and services, if there is focus on higher education and its quality is globally benchmarked.


The future expansion of education would have to be carefully planned so as to correct regional and social imbalances, reinvigorate institutions to improve standards and reach international benchmarks of excellence, match demand with supply by improving employability, and extend the frontiers of knowledge. The reform of higher education system will require a comprehensive and collective efforts of the Government, private sector, academia and civil society, so that the three objectives of access and expansion, equity and inclusion, and quality and excellence can be achieved in a time bound manner.


“ it’s a combination of targeting higher paying jobs in growth areas and fostering closer cooperation with higher education; a rising tide that lifts all  boats “


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