Higher education in India: Issues and Challenges

If India has to become an economic power then it has to focus on education.

Government has to focus on both form of education higher and primary.

In this article we are focusing on Higher Education.


However focusing on higher education does not mean I am belittling the need of primary education.

Both are relevant and both have importance if country has to be changed holistically.

In coming paragraph we will be debating the difference between higher education and primary education.

How both are different and one can’t replace each other. Later we talk about issues and challenges related to Higher Education only.

Higher Education Vs Primary Education

Before we debate about issues and challenges related to higher education we need to understand primary education is more important than higher education.

Why am I saying so?

India’s number one challenge is poverty, we have to lift millions of people out of poverty and we can’t do it unless we focus on primary education.

Primary education starts from Class 1st when child is 5 years old. Primary education does not only mean a classroom, books and a teacher (that is bare minimum) but nutrition, clothes and creating an environment where a child can learn new things every day, an environment that can help in bringing out best within a child.

Infrastructure like chair, table, books, stationery, a classroom and teachers is bare minimum that any government could provide.

They need to do more than that like teaching children how they can imagine and bring out their inner talent that they can use later in their life.

If we have to bring people out of poverty then we need social mobility and social mobility can’t be achieved unless we focus on primary education and health.

However on the other hand higher education does not solve this problem.

Higher education starts when you come out of high school or 10+2.

So if child is 5 years old and live in a family which is below poverty line then the child needs primary education not higher education.

Therefore if government is spending only on higher education that is not going to change the status of child because higher education is all about colleges. And by the time the child living in a family below poverty line reaches the age of 16 his or her mind has already been shaped.

So it is of no use if the government is spending on higher education.

That is the difference between importance of higher and primary education.

State of Higher Education in India

State of Higher education in India is in between good and bad. I mean in a nutshell to say neither it is good nor it is that bad.

So in this paragraph we shall talk about number of universities, colleges, number of teachers & professors and students enrolled.

In the year 2014 India has over 670 universities, at least 38,000 colleges, 817000 professors and teachers and over 28000,000 students enrolled.

There is growth in numbers of colleges, universities, students and teachers year after year.

Different students apply for different courses. Like there are over 14,000,0000 students applied for graduates courses all over the country.

For post graduate there are over 20490000 students enrolled.

For research around 1370000 and for diploma over 1710000 students enrolled in the year 2014.

Now we should also look at the budget issue. How much government of India is allocating for education.

In the year 2014 the government of India spent over Rs 65,000 Crore. This amount is 17% more than the last in 2013.

The department of Higher education has allocated Over Rs 16,000 crore which is 20% hike from last year.

Similarly government has allocated Rs 24,00 Crore for IITs, Rs 1300 for NIT’s, and Rs 350 Crore to IIM’s this year.

So this sums up the state of higher education in India.

Issues with Higher Education in India

Let us talk about some of the issues related to higher education in India.

Teaching Qualityquality_teaching

The first issue that higher education in India is facing is decreasing teaching quality. Teachers are not well trained and qualified for the job they are assigned to.

Some colleges recruit young graduates as professors who have no experience or knowledge. So this is a big problem.


Financing is also an issue with higher education in India. Yes India is already spending very much on higher education and it can’t spend more.

However if the quality of higher education has to be improved then more financing is needed.


Privatization is also a big problem that higher education faces.


Privatization of higher education is the way to go. However just privatization is not going to solve the problem.

You need to foster the culture of creativity, imagination and learning new skills in young students.

Quota System

Debating quota system is very controversial. But if you are being honest then I must tell you quota is not good for the quality of higher education.

Talent and merit is more important than your identity. However quota system is still a challenge.

Political Factor

Political influence is also a bad thing and an issue with higher education. Governing bodies do not want any political influence or interference in their affairs.

Moral Issues

Younger generation is not interested in serving their country and they are more interested in just taking up a job and a hefty pay package.

Problems with Higher Education in India

So above we discussed issues that higher education is facing. Now we shall debate about some of the serious challenges that higher education is facing.

1.      Gap in Supply and Demand

India’s gross enrollment rate (GER) is just 19% which is not good. GER is 6% below the world average and at least 50% lesser than developed world like Australia and US.

This has to change if we have to really improve state of higher education in India.

2.      Mushrooming of Low Quality Institutes

Mushrooming of low quality institutes all over the country is not good for higher education. These new colleges lack capacity and they are all about fleecing money from students and their parents.

There is too much glamour and less quality of education.

3.      No Project Based Learning

Higher education lack project based learning. Young graduates need to learn new skills especially vocational skills that can give them job.

So we are not focusing on project based learning at all. Just theory is not enough, we also need practical knowledge is also.

4.      No Strategy

There is no strategy for higher education in India. We don’t have foreign students coming to the country and studying here.

Government has no plan for this and this is a big challenge.

5.      Why Only Servicing Industry?

We are obsessed with servicing industry. We all want to get selected in campus selection so we love jobs in servicing sector only.

However higher education does not solve the problem when it comes to creating jobs in manufacturing sector. That is a big problem.


Finally I will conclude by saying for any country both primary and higher education are needed.

Primary education has its own importance just like higher education has its own importance.

However higher education is very important for growing our economy. Higher education in India has many challenges and issues.

We need to talk about them and highlight so that government can resolve such issues.

You need to read this article to get an idea about state of higher education in India at present.

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