The blips in the higher education sector in Odisha looks very stark. The average enrolment of students in colleges in the State has fallen to a 5-year low, despite colleges per lakh population posting only a marginal rise last year after a long stagnancy.
As per the latest All India Status on Higher Education (AISHE) report 2020, the average enrolment in colleges in the State has dropped to 659 in 2019-20. In the last 5-year period, the lowest enrolment was recorded in 2015 (661).
Male enrolment in the State has been on the downslide during the last 5-year period when female enrolment has posted a sharp rise.
The report has brought to fore the fact that all is not well in the higher education sector in the State. In the indicator of colleges per lakh population, Odisha has almost maintained a status quo trend for the last 5-years. During the period 2015-20, the colleges per lakh population in the State remained stagnant at around 23-24.
Moreover, after a dip for two consecutive years of 2016-18, the number of colleges in the State have posted an upward trend to touch 1087 in 2019-20. But a reality check unravels the blips: the number of colleges in Odisha in 2010-11 was 1,089.
There seems to be a lop-sided distribution of colleges in Odisha. The district-wise density reveals that when one district (Khurda) has nearly 200 colleges, 6 districts in the State have below 9 colleges.
In sharp contrast, neighbouring Chhattisgarh has 3 such districts where the number of colleges has been nearly 200.
Private Sector Dominates Higher Edu In Odisha
Odisha has mere 363 Government colleges vis-a-vis over 714 private colleges. In Odisha, private colleges have an enrolment of 62 per cent when they account for 66 per cent of total colleges in the State.
The big trend observed is enrolment in private colleges have dropped to 62 per cent in 2019-20 from 65 per cent in 2017-18.
Enrolment in Government colleges in Odisha has been around 38 per cent when they account for around 34 per cent of the total higher education institutions.
The significance here is how higher education in Odisha is mostly dominated by the private sector and how this high scale of privatisation in the State looks to be proving a dampener for such a high proportion of students, for whom higher education has become now inaccessible.
A New Trend In Odisha Higher Edu
After a continuous rise for 4-consecutive years, the enrolment of undergraduate in the State has dropped by over 29k.
An analysis reveals that the dip in undergraduate enrolment has been linked to poor job opportunities for pass outs from the general stream. The evidence is Odisha has seen a significant rise in enrolment in specialised streams/courses - from Phd to diploma courses.