New Delhi: India's student population in higher education grew by 800,000 in 2018-19 as against the previous year taking the absolute number of such students to 37.4 million, the human resource development ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry said the gross enrollment ratio has increased from 25.8 in 2017-18 to 26.3 in 2018-19, while in absolute terms the enrollment increased from 3.66 crore to 3.74 crore students. Gross enrollment ratio or GER refers to the percentage of students in higher education of the total eligible population in the 18-23 age group.

Though of the total students population the female students comprise 48.6%, female students GER is slightly better (26.4) as against 26.3 among the male students.

The GER for schedule caste students has also shown a growth from 21.8 to 23 and STs from 15.9 to 17.2.

In terms of increase in the number of universities, they have grown from 903 (2017-18) to 993 (2018-19) and total higher educational institutions from 49,964 to 51,649 during the same period.

The number of teaching staff increased from 13.88 lakh to 14.16 lakh, the ministry said in a statement after meeting with state government officials.

Among all students, the ministry data showed that SC students constitute 14.9%, ST students 5.5% of the total enrollment. At least 36.3% students belong to Other Backward Classes. 5.2% students belong to muslim minority and 2.3% from other minority communities.

The ministry also said that it has launched a software to track plagiarism in academic research. Initially, about 1,000 universities and colleges are being provided with this service.

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