The extent of higher education is generally measured by enrolment ratio in higher education; by taking the ratio of persons in all age group enrolled in various programs to total population in age group of 18 to 23. The current level of GER in India stands at a figure of about 13% it is very low if we compared to world average of 23.2%, 36.5% for developing countries and 45% for developed countries.
The government thus has an enormous task in hand to improve the GER to bring it somewhere close to other developing countries as otherwise the country would continue to remain divided not only in terms of wealth-distribution but also in the more fundamental aspects like education and health.
India plans to raise the GER from current level to 30% by the year 2020. Although, the growth of higher education in India has been phenomenal, starting with 1950-51, where the GER was only 0.7%, there were only 263,000 students in all disciplines in 750 colleges affiliated to 30 universities. This has grown to around 400 University level institutions, including 217 State Universities, 104 Deemed Universities, and Institutions established under State Legislation, Institutes of National Importance established under Central legislation and Private Universities. About 12 million students studies in around 20,000 Degree colleges affiliated to universities and non-affiliated university-level institutions. It requires more than 1500 universities to achieve the set target for GER i.e. 30% by 2020.
Suggestions to improve GER and Employability skills in India are as follows
1. Regulation: The country's education system has been characterized by a huge demand-supply gap, high entry barriers and over-regulation as there is a multiplicity of regulators with confusing overlapping mandates (UGC, AICTE, Medical Council, Bar Council, State and Central Higher Education Board) that renders the whole system as being overregulated and under-governed and also incapable of coping with the soaring aspirations of a growing middle class and requirements of a new world order. Therefore the first recommendation is to simplify entry and bring the regulations under the single window clearance and control to make education system more accountable and be able to achieve the targeted GER without compromising on the quality of education and assessment system.
2. Service Tax: Education in whichever format whether formal or informal, be it Higher Education or Vocational, the government needs to be considerate while charging service tax. Most of the private players who opt for providing the vocational education or training bear the brunt of service tax and at time compromise or increase the entry level for the aspirants to enter the vocational education. Since, there is huge gap between the demand-supply, the PPP will enable the private players to invest and integrate their best practices while rendering employable vocational courses needed for the industry...
3. Education Loan: Although RBI, the Central Bank, mandates the banks to fund and facilitate loans to the students at lower diligence and rate but it doesn't delineate and still students especially those in rural and semi-urban areas find difficult to fund their vocational or higher education. The government should strictly monitor and develop the mechanism so that larger participation can be seen from the banks and help students in funding their education,
4. Tax Holiday: The GER in rural area is almost three times lower compared with urban area and that is because of lack of both awareness and infrastructure of higher education. Therefore it is the need of the hour to encourage private sector to invest in the rural areas to provide economical Higher / Vocational education to increase the employability skills by providing them tax relaxation in the form of tax holiday by specifying specially ear marked areas for setting up private universities and institutions.
5. Research Work: The government should initiate policies and promote the R&D amongst the private players. The quality of education can only be measured in terms of their research and development as how better they reflect the societal and industrial changes that help towards the development of the nation. The education policy planner should work on strengthening the education system to promote more and more researches by providing incentives and tax subsidies in research and development to private institutions as well.
6. Hospitality Industry oriented Courses: Hospitality industry needs about two lakh trained persons every year but the supply is just about 27,000 persons, which gets further reduced by one-third due to attrition. The Government, on its part, should actively try to bridge the skilled manpower shortage by setting up more govt. sponsored Institutes or through public-private partnership(PPP) model and promoting private investment both domestic and foreign, to bridge the industry gap and uplift the societal benefits.