Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: Access to higher education in India measured in terms of Gross enrolment ratio (GER) is about 10 per cent. This compares poorly with the world average of 23 per cent. Increase in GER is necessary for sustainable economic development of our country. It is visualised that the GER for XII Five Year Plan should be approximately 21 per cent, R.K. Chauhan, Secretary, University Grants Commission, said here on Sunday.

Delivering the graduation day address at SNR Sons College, he said that the Prime Minister had taken special initiatives to establish 16 additional Central Universities, 14 National Universities and colleges in 374 districts where the GER is less than the all India national average to increase the GER to 15 per cent in the XI Plan.

“The strategy for increasing the intake capacity of existing educational institutions will be based on providing regular development grants to universities, colleges and other institutions. It will also include creating new universities from the existing large State Universities to convert them into optimal sized ones so that they become efficient and manageable,” Mr. Chauhan said.

Lamenting on poor access to higher education, Mr. Chauhan said there was a problem of equity and inclusive education, quality and excellence, and above all, management of the higher education system.

He called for conscious efforts to ensure that higher education did not suffer from disparities across region, gender, social groups, women, physically challenged and the economically deprived. The XI Plan proposed to initiate measures to reduce these imbalances.

“Besides the above strategies and measures, the UGC proposed to take several initiatives to reform the governance of institutions, affiliating systems, fellowship and students’ assistance patterns, fee structure, public-private partnership and also internationalisation of higher education,” Mr. Chauhan said.

Naren Singh, Joint Secretary, UGC, C. Soundaraj, Managing Trustee, SNR Charitable Trust, and V. Sengodan, Principal and Secretary, SNR Sons College, were present.