Forget research and Ph.Ds. In Karnataka, only 12.2 per cent of those who have completed pre-university/12th Standard join college. These astounding facts have been made available in a study conducted by the Karnataka Knowledge Commission on ‘The gross enrolment ratio in higher education in Karnataka'.

As per the data, only 9.47 lakh of the 77.5 lakh students go on to join college. The calculated gross enrolment ratio (GER) for 2010-11 indicates that 87.78 per cent of the population in the age group of 18 to 23 are outside the purview of higher education.

The present GER is not a dramatic improvement from what it was. The GER in India in 2006 was 11. This was way less compared to the U.S. (82), Australia and Brazil (73), the U.K. (59), China (22) and South Africa (15). There is a substantial discrepancy between the number of students who are eligible to enrol in higher studies, and the number of those who actually do. Out of 56.7 per cent of eligible candidates, only 12.22 per cent are pursuing their higher studies.

The EER (eligible enrolment ratio) indicates that 43.3 per cent who have not completed higher secondary have not enrolled for higher education.

The difference

GER is an index which measures the enrolment in higher education over the population in the age group of 18 to 23. EER, on the other hand, is the index which measures the enrolment in higher education over the eligible population – pass-outs at the 12th Standard or higher secondary level (the pass-outs from the State pre-university board for the years 2006-10 were summated for this).

Male vs. female

The Commission's findings also validate another strong trend – that of more males having the privilege of education than females. Both the EER and GER of males are higher than that of females. The male GER stands at 14 per cent, as opposed to 10.38 of females. This means that for the 5.52 lakh males enrolled in higher education, only 3.95 lakh females are enrolled.

University data

Among the State universities, Bangalore University (BU) has the highest GER of 13.88, while the least is of Davangere University. BU tops in terms of enrolment and the number of affiliated colleges. BU has the highest enrolment per college with 458, while Mangalore University has the least enrolment per college with 142.

The GER of specialised universities is dismal – a measly one per cent, while the EER is five per cent. Among these, Visvesvaraya Technical University (VTU) has the highest GER due to the enrolments in engineering courses. The enrolment for Ph.D. is very minute – 0.003 per cent of total enrolments. Here too, male enrolment is 2.52 times more than female enrolment.

Arts still tops

Among streams, Arts holds the sway in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In undergraduate courses, the enrolment percentage for arts courses is about 33.7 per cent, followed by commerce, science, engineering and management. A less favoured course is agriculture, with a share of 0.29 per cent.

At the postgraduate level, arts continues its dominance with 32.7 per cent, while science has a 19 per cent share. Law has the least demand.

Reasons

So, what is it that forces these students to opt out of studying further?

As per the Commission's study, the reasons can vary from being as serious as financial problems and non-availability of colleges in the locality, to as bizarre as not finding any meaning in studying and following the path of friends who have discontinued studies.

The other reasons include marriage plans, lack of guidance on what to study, health problems, parents' pressure to discontinue, repeated failure in exams and household work.

Recommendations

The panel from the Knowledge Commission came up with some recommendations for the discouraging enrolment figures. Among the recommendations are extending financial support, restructuring courses and revamping courses such as B.A., B.Sc and B.Com, establishing ‘district higher education councils,' establishing linkages among primary, secondary and higher education, and developing common data formats and maintaining them for decision making.