New Delhi: A 27% quota for other backward classes (OBC) in higher educational institutes has increased enrolment, according to a central government report, but human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal said quality issues still need to be addressed.
Gross enrolment ratio has risen since 2009, Sibal said on Friday.
“The gross enrolment ratio in 2009 was 12.5% and now it has reached 19.5%. By 2020, we will move much ahead of the 30% target,” Sibal said after releasing the All India Survey on Higher Education. “We are aware of the infrastructure issues and the quality parameters. Now the focus should be on quality.”
More than 20 million in the 18-24 age group are pursuing higher education. The gross enrolment ratio is the percentage of students in the above age group in higher education in the country.
With this growth in enrolment, the need for the compulsory accreditation, curbing malpractice and bringing foreign universities to the country has grown, he said. Several bills, including three on the above issues, are pending in Parliament. According to the study, of the total enrolments, at least 27.1% are from the OBC category, 4.4% from scheduled tribes and 10.2% from scheduled caste backgrounds. The rest are general category students.
The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 provides for 27% reservation for OBCs in government-run educational institutes. The Bill was passed in 2006, notified in January 2007 and came into force in 2008. The legislation was implemented amid protests.
The quotas were supposed to be put in place first over a period of three years, and later changed to six years ending 2013. But most of them were implemented by 2011, according to government officials associated with the project.
Widening access to higher education, quality should not be ignored, said R.S. Grewal, vice-chancellor of the private Chitkara University, which has two campuses—in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
“People are getting conscious about quality of infrastructure, faculty and the content,” he said. “The placement too is becoming important for students and their parents. As the education sector consolidates, the focus on quality will only grow.”
An independent education expert said the government needed to be worried rather than self-congratulatory.
“Instead of feeling happy, they need to realize that there is a more than 33% shortage of faculty, the efficiency of college graduates is really poor and they are not job ready,” said this person on condition of anonymity.