The recently released All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 report had revised the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education retrospectively for the previous four years, by recalculating it based on population projections as per the 2011 Census. Previous reports had used projections based on the 2001 Census.
GER, expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing the total enrolment in higher education courses by the projected population in the 18-23 age group. Based on these retrospective revisions, the GER of most States and India went up or down between 2016 and 2019. However, a comparison of the population projections used in the AISHE 2020-21 report with the Census of India (CoI)’s Report by a Technical Group on Population Projection, released in July 2020, shows variations. The CoI report is used by various ministries. In fact, the Education Ministry, which released the AISHE report, has ascertained the population in the 18-23 age group using the CoI report. The same is on its website.
Chart 1 shows Tamil Nadu’s population projection used in the AISHE 2020-21 report between 2016 and 2020 and the population projection based on the CoI report. For the first four years, there are sharp deviations between the two projections. The figures based on the CoI report show a gradual decline between 2016 and 2020, whereas the population figures in the AISHE 2020-21 show an increase for the first four years and a sharp drop in 2020.
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Despite both the reports using the 2011 Census for population projections, the numbers vary widely. Given that the projected population forms the denominator in the GER calculation, that figure too changed significantly.
Chart 2 shows Tamil Nadu’s GER in higher education according to the AISHE 2020-21 report based on the 2011 Census and the State’s GER according to the AISHE 2019-20 report, based on the 2001 Census. Across all the years, GER was revised downwards in the recent report. Specifically, according to the old report, in 2019-20, Tamil Nadu’s GER had crossed 50%, which was marked as a key achievement by a major State. This has been revised to 49% in the latest report (2020-21).
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Notably, even if the population projections given in AISHE 2020-21 were used to calculate GER, the numbers do not match with the ones given in the report. Table 3 calculates GER using the population projections (B) and the enrolment figures (A), both taken from the AISHE 2020-21 report for Tamil Nadu. The calculated figures (C) by the data team do not match with the ones stated in the report (D).
Moreover, in Himachal Pradesh, the projected population in the 18-23 age group for 2019 was revised upwards by 6% in the AISHE 2020-21 report compared to the AISHE 2019-20 report. However, despite this revision, the State’s GER for 2019 remained the same (40.8%) in both the reports.
Though Tamil Nadu was used as an example to highlight these discrepancies in the latest AISHE survey, as shown in Graphs 4A and 4B, such variations in population projections and GER calculations were recorded in other States as well. For instance, as shown in Chart 4A, the difference in population numbers between the latest AISHE figures and the CoI’s numbers for 2016 in Uttar Pradesh was more than 8 lakh. As shown in Chart 4B, a difference of 2.3% points was observed between the calculated GER and the GER stated in the latest AISHE report in Himachal Pradesh for 2019.
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Source: All India Survey on Higher Education 2020-2021
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