Among India’s large states, Tamil Nadu consistently maintains the highest Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education (colleges and universities) for five academic years between 2017-18 and 2021-22. According to the recently released All India Survey on Higher Education by the Ministry of Education, Tamil Nadu’s GER (the number of students enrolled in higher education as a percentage of the eligible population aged 18 to 23 years) was 47 per cent. The all-India average GER was 28.4 per cent in the 2021-22 period.

This is 0.1 per cent more than Tamil Nadu’s GER in 2020-21, during the pandemic. However, it is yet to reach the pre-pandemic high of 49 per cent. The GER among women was 47.3 per cent, while it was 46.8 per cent among men. Among the larger states, Tamil Nadu also has the highest GER among SC and ST students - 39.4 and 43.9 per cent respectively.

“GER is a key indicator of the level of participation in higher education within a given population. Higher GER values indicate greater enrolment in higher education among the specified age group,” reads the report. However, the data may not be quite accurate, since the population for the 18-23 age group is calculated based on the 2011 census. “Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at all India levels has increased over the years. GER has increased to 28.4 per cent in 2021-22 from 27.3 per cent in 2020-21 and 24.6 per cent in 2017-18. In 2014-15, the GER was 23.7,” reads the report.

The others who did well

Among all the states and Union Territories, Chandigarh has the highest GER of 64.8 per cent. It is followed by Puducherry with 61.5 per cent and Delhi with 49 per cent. The other states that did well are Himachal Pradesh (43.1 per cent), Uttarakhand (41.8 per cent), Kerala (41.3 per cent) and Telangana (40 per cent).

On the other side of the spectrum are states like Assam and Bihar, which have the lowest proportion of young people pursuing higher education. The GER is 16.9 per cent in Assam and 17.1 per cent in Bihar. In Jharkhand, it is 18.6 per cent. In Lakshadweep, it is as low as 1.1 per cent. This is because Lakshadweep does not have any higher education institutions. “However three PG/Off-shore campuses of University of Calicut, Malappuram are functioning from Lakshadweep,” noted the report.