At a function in Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra said that the country had witnessed one university and two colleges open every week over the last eight years.
"In the last 8 years, one University and two colleges have been opened every week in the country and it is a matter of great joy. The speed and scale are a testimony to the fact that India is going to become the pool of that young generation, which will give a direction to the future of the world", he said on February 10 at the inauguration of the Mumbai campus of Al-Jamea-Tus-Saifiyah, an academy of theological studies of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
His comments can be seen through the transcript available here.
Similar comments were also made by President Draupadi Murmu in her address to a joint session of Parliament on January 31 at the inauguration of the Budget Session for this year. The Union Budget would go on to be presented the next day.
"During this period (8 years), two colleges have been established every day and a university established every week", she said. "While there were about 725 universities in the country before 2014, more than 300 new universities have been set up in the last eight years. More than 5000 colleges have also been opened in the country during this period", she went on to say next.
The transcript of her speech is available with the President of India's website here.
This claim, however, is not new. In 2021, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted that the government led by Modi has set up two colleges every day.
This time though, while Modi and Murmu have referred to this claim, they have stopped short of claiming that these institutions were setup by the central government itself.
Their comments come in an election year where elections to Tripura, Meghalaya and Tripura are ongoing, whose results will be counted on March 2. Elections to the assembly of Karnataka are scheduled to take place in May. Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telengana are scheduled to go to the poll towards the end of the year.
What does the data say?
Data from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) - a Ministry of Education annual undertaking since 2011 - show that these figures add up.
In the 2013 - 2014 survey, a total of 36,634 colleges increased to 43,796 colleges in the 2020 - 2021 survey. When this difference of 7,162 (43,796 and 36,634 colleges) is divided by 8 years and further divided by 365 days, it averages to 2.4 colleges a day. This is close to the claim that two colleges have been setup per day.
Similarly, the 2013 - 2014 AISHE survey shows that 723 universities (but only 702 respondent ones) increased to 1,113 universities in the 2020 - 2021 survey. When this difference of 390 is divided by 8 years and further divided by 52 (weeks), it yields 0.93 universities a week on average.
But the nuance is that while the figures do add up at the face value, the growth in both colleges and universities show little central involvement. The growth in colleges is driven primarily by private unaided institutions, which are the largest section of colleges according to AISHE's three provided cateogorisations. The other two are government colleges and private colleges with government aid.
Similarly, the growth in universities is driven by state universities - both public and private. The other types of universities are deemed universities (both private and government), Institutes of National Importance and central universities.
The number of universities in India
The data show that at least 70% or more of universities in India are at the state-level: either public or private universities.
AISHE data classifications were broader in the 2013 - 2014 and the 2014 - 2015 survey.
They were consolidated to just six categories from 2015 - 2016 onwards.
BOOM has presented both versions of the data - both of which show that state universities form a majority of the universities in India. Growth especially was seen in state private universities, followed by state public universities and then Institutes of National Importance.
In the latest survey of 2020 - 2021, nearly 71% of the colleges were either private or public state universities.
- A central university is established by Central Act and a state university is established by a State Act
- A private university may be established by a Central or a State Act but it is through a sponsoring body like a trust, a society or a company
- A deemed university is a high-performing institution that has been declared so by the central government
- An Insitute of National Importance encompass institutions like all Indian Institute of Technology and National Institute of Technology
- Open universities impart education solely through distace learning. They can be private, public, state or central
The University Grants Commission - the regulator of higher education in India - also lays down the rules for the establishment of a new private university through State Acts in India. This can be found here.
Their rules on deemed universities can be found here.
The colleges established in India
The AISHE survey annually publishes the colleges established during the year drilled down by management or stewardship.
The data provided by AISHE shows an overwhelming number of colleges being established annually being private unaided insitutions. As per the latest data provided in the 2020 - 201 survey, 72% of colleges established in India were private and unaided institutions.
This trend has carried over the eight year period beginning before the incumbent government first started in 2014.
- Central government colleges are maintained by the central government either directly or indirectly
- Similarly, state government colleges are maintained by the respective state government directly or indirectly
- Private but aided institutions are managed by individuals, trusts, societies or private bodies, but they receive maintainance grants from government or local bodies
- Private unaided institutions may have the same management bodies as aided ones. But they are not receiving regular grants. They can, however, be the recipients of one-time targeted grants such as for the building of a library or a laboratory, or towards other construction or salaries. But the grant should not be regular.
The latest AISHE survey for 2020 - 2021 can be found here.
All the surveys can be obtained from here.