New Delhi: Poor quality of research and lack of enough innovation are a challenge for the higher education sector, Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said today as he asked vice-chancellors and directors to ramp up their research output and control cases of plagiarism.

“Lack of innovation and quality research is the foremost challenge before the country. Quality expansion and teaching reform is the need of the hour," Javadekar said at a conference here in New Delhi.

Talking about the problem of plagiarism in research at universities and colleges, the minister said his ministry would supply software that would help in detecting it. “Software has been developed which will be made available to all universities to stop plagiarism and it will be available free of cost…," he said.

The minister also released a report on the status of higher education institutions. It found enrolment of female students at institutions of national importance needed to be improved. The All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) showed the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education was 25.8%.

According to the report, the total enrolment in higher education has been pegged at 36.6 million, of which 17.4 million are girl students. “Girls constitute 47.6% of the enrolment," the report for 2017-18 said.

India had 903 universities, 39,050 colleges and 10,011 standalone institutions in 2017.

The report states more male scholars were awarded PhD degrees in 2017, most of them in the science stream. Last year, some 34,000 scholars were awarded PhD degrees, of which 14,221 were women. Most of these PhDs were awarded in science followed by engineering, the report said. But at the post graduate level, the maximum number of students was found to be from the social science stream, the report said.

The report said 46.116 foreign students were pursuing higher education in India in 2017.