Virtual universities to drive up HE enrolment rates

Only about one in four Indians in the university-going age group is enrolled in a higher education programme. Driving up this number has long been a government priority, but numerous hurdles that prevent access to higher education, including socio-economic disparities as well as an inadequate number of institutions in rural areas, have held back progress. In a renewed effort, the government has now proposed the creation of virtual universities to drive up the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education from the current rate of around 26% for those aged between 18 and 23, writes Debarshi Dasgupta for The Straits Times.

The National Education Policy, which was adopted last year, has specified a GER target of 50% by 2035. The GER in China and Brazil in higher education is more than 50%.

A government media release on 29 January, quoting the country’s Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, said the government will soon establish virtual universities to achieve the desired GER target. These institutions, it added, will be different from existing open universities that mostly combine remote self-learning with audiovisual support, physical coursework-related counselling and exams that are conducted offline. It is expected that the proposed virtual universities will have greater reliance on virtual learning and online exams.
Full report on The Straits Times site