Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), a key indicator in higher education, needs to go up, as also an increase in investment and other measures, for higher education to improve in the country,NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat said here Monday. “We have a very huge demographic advantage today…we only have to provide the nice ecosystem and the environment for them (youth) to become productive and also contribute to the country’s progress,” he said.
“Higher education is one area which certainly helps them in doing what they are looking forward to. But if you look at the picture of higher education in our country today, is not very, very bright. It is quite grim,” Saraswat said.
He was addressing a “National Workshop on Accreditation, Quality Improvement and Ranking in Higher Education Roadmap Ahead”, organised jointly by the Telangana State Council of Higher Education and others.
The GER (how many students are enrolled in the higher education) is about 25 per cent in the country, while it is 50 per cent in most of the developed countries, he said. He was asked about his comments that the situation is grim and the response of the government and NITI Aayog to it
“If you look at the quality GER… we will be further lower than this 25 per cent… quality GER is what we have to look at. He suggested that more autonomy and resources be given to universities, among others, to quality of higher education. Saraswat said India spends four per cent of its GDP on education, while other countries spend more than that.
China spent nearly 565 billion dollars on education in 2016-17, of which 145 billion dollars was spent on higher education. In contrast, India spent about 12.5 billion dollars on the sector, of which only 4.5 billion was on higher education.
In addition, there are issues over rankings and ratings, he told reporters. He rued that there was not even a single university among top 100 universities in the world. Saraswat also stressed on the importance of innovation to add to the economy of the country.
He emphasized on 4 Cs, including creative thinking, competencies and communication skills, becoming part of university education.
Saraswat said NITI Aayog has made many suggestions which have been reflected in the new education policy draft of eminent space scientist Kasturirangan, he said. Education had been a major focus area in the country since ancient times, he said.
To a query on Prime Ministers remarks that steps would be taken to make universities in the country world class, he said NITI Aayog has put out a vision document, where it has said that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has to be accorded the highest focus.
It suggested improving reading skills and mathematical abilities for children, focus on research in universities, among others, in its “vision document”, he said.