The NIEPA report states that in 2011, there were 1,664 higher education institutions — government and private. In 2016-17, the figure increased to 2,003, 66% of which was made up of private institutions, according to the HRD ministry.
Ironically, the surging private higher education institutions, especially in technical education, face major challenge of survival. This year, a significant 54% seats fell vacant in engineering and technical courses in Gujarat. The fall in the number of government-aided colleges and schools, costlier education, and shifting education trends are the main reasons for seat vacancies.
“The government is adding more science and arts colleges as well as increasing number of divisions to give a boost to goverment’s stake in higher education,” said Anju Sharma, principal secretary, higher and technical education. “The ‘one taluka one college’ scheme is under implementation. We are recruiting 600 teachers for non-technical subjects and 750 for technical colleges.”
Education opportunities: Gujarat at 16th position
As for the opportunities available to students to pursue higher education, the NIEPA report states that Gujarat has 30.5 higher education institutions per 1 lakh population in the 18-23 age group, which forms 5.09% of the total population. This puts Gujarat in the 16th position in the country. Telangana has 565 higher education institutions per 1 lakh population in the 18-23 age group, followed by Karnataka (51.33) and Puducherry (62.7).
The president of Gujarat self-financed colleges’ management association, Nehal Shukla, said: “The 54% seat vacancy in technical courses is a sign that the government should stop permitting more self-financed colleges in the technical field. There is substantial demand for arts and commerce courses, as 70% of students opt for them.”