Education, Government of India, India, Stories

Data: As ‘Engineering & Technology’ Loses Sheen, Enrolments in Commerce and Science Streams Increase at Graduation & PG Levels


The Ministry of Education released the AISHE report for 2020-21 that provides data on parameters such as teachers, students, enrolments at graduation & PG levels. Data from 2012-13 to 2020-21 indicates as enrolment in Engineering & Technology declined, enrolments in Commerce & Science streams increased both graduation & PG levels.

The Ministry of Education has been conducting annual ‘All India Survey on Higher Education’ (AISHE) since 2010-11. It incorporates the data of all institutions offering higher education, primarily covering the data on parameters such as teachers, students, enrolments, infrastructure, examinations, and educational finances. This survey is important as it provides a complete picture of the state of higher education in India.

The survey for 2020-21 was carried out completely in an electronic mode for the first time, and this survey is also the first one to see the participation of major stakeholders such as University Grants Commissions, All India Council for Technical Education, Medical Council of India as well as State Governments in data collection. In today’s story, we look at the data from the recently released AISHE 2020-21 report & analyse trends in enrolment at various levels & in various streams.

Total Enrolment rose by 37% between 2012-13 to 2020-21

The total enrolment at all levels and across all social categories grew from 30.2 million in 2012-13 to 41.4 million in 2020-21, increasing by almost 37% between these years. The average enrolment at undergraduate levels stood at 2.82 crores, while for that of post-graduate levels stood at an average of 40 lakhs during this period. If we consider the enrolment across the social groups, the average share of Scheduled Castes in the total enrolment stands at 14%, while for Scheduled Tribes, it is 5.1%. For other Backward castes, the share in total enrolment adds up to 34%.

The share of males in the total enrolment fell from 55.1% in 2012-13 to 51.3% in 2020-21, while the share of females rose from 44.9% to 48.7% during the same period. The absolute enrolment of females at all levels crossed the 2-crore mark for the first time in 2020-21. 

Further, it is observed that the percentage share of Muslims in the total enrolment rose from 4.2% in 2012-13 to 5.5% in 2019-20. However, their share declined to 4.6% in 2020-21. The share of other minorities also fell from 2.3% to 2% during 2019-20 to 2020-21. The average share of other minorities stood at 2% of the total enrolment during 2012-13 to 2020-21.

Once most preferred, Engineering & Technology stream losing sheen. 

To look at the changing preferences of students across disciplines, the total enrolment at undergraduate level for major disciplines is analysed. Disciplines are majorly categorized into four streams – Arts, Sciences, Commerce, and Engineering & Technology. Other disciplines such as medical sciences, law, management among others are not considered for this analysis. It is observed that Arts remains the stream with highest student enrolments, followed by sciences, commerce, and engineering & technology. 

Interestingly, the sciences stream stood fourth among major streams in terms of total enrolment during 2012-13 and 2013-14. The enrolment in science stream improved steadily, making the stream the second highest from 2015-16 to 2020-21. The enrolment in sciences and commerce streams rose gradually from 25.3 lakh to 48.2 lakh and 28.9 lakh to 43.2 lakh respectively during 2012-13 to 2020-21. 

And once most preferred stream, engineering and technology fell from being the second in highest enrolment to fourth between 2012-13 to 2020-21. After a brief increase in the enrolment from 34.7 lakh in 2012-13 to 42.5 lakh in 2015-16, the enrolment in the engineering and technology declined consistently, falling to 36.9 lakh in 2020-21.

A gendered perspective at undergraduate level also reveals that engineering & technology stream is heavily skewed towards males, with more than 70% share, while females outnumber males in Arts and sciences stream by a slight margin.

More than 75% increase in students enrolling in social sciences at post-graduate level.

Data indicates that the number of students enrolling in social sciences stream at postgraduate level grew from 5.33 lakh in 2012-13 to 9.42 lakh in 2020-21, representing an increase of 77%. In fact, 2020-21 itself saw a huge increase in enrolment by nearly 20% as compared to 2019-20. Similarly, the students enrolling in sciences and management streams at postgraduate levels rose by 69% and 24% respectively during the 2012-13 to 2020-21. 

Commerce stream saw the highest growth of 122%, increasing from 2.42 lakh in 2012-13 to 5.37 lakh in 2020-21. Engineering and Technology is the only stream among these four major streams to register a decline in the total enrolments. It declined by 8.8% from 1.94 lakh in 2012-13 to 1.77 lakh in 2020-21.

Marginal Improvement in diversity in STEM

STEM includes Science stream (including Mathematics) and Engineering & Technology stream. The data for the last five years on enrolments in STEM indicates a marginal improvement in the gender and caste diversity. The share of females in the total enrolment in STEM improved from 39.91% in 2016-17 to 42.03% in 2020-21, peaking to 43.2% in 2019-20. In terms of caste representation, the share of Scheduled Castes in the total enrolment stood advanced from 12.11% in 2016-17 to 12.59% in 2020-21, while for Scheduled Tribes, it expanded from 3.62% to 4.42%, and for OBCs, it improved from 38.08% to 39.71% during the same period. 


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