Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

All India Survey on Higher Education: A Wake-up Call for the Muslim Community


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: findings of All-India Survey on Higher Education

Mains level: Sachar Committee Report, Higher education enrollment of Marginalized communities


Central Idea

  • The recently released All India Survey on Higher Education 2020–21 has shown some alarming trends. While there have been improvements in the enrollment of certain communities in higher education, there has been a drastic drop in the enrollment of Muslim students. The survey provides a grim picture of the marginalisation of the Muslim community in higher education and the need for the government to take action to address.

Findings of the survey

  1. Enrollment overview:
  • Enrollment of Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs in higher education increased by 4.2%, 11.9%, and 4% respectively compared to 2019-20.
  • The upper castes showed the highest growth rate of 13.6%, after declining with the implementation of Mandal II in the late 2000s.
  1. Enrollment of Muslim students:
  • The enrollment of Muslim students dropped by 8% from 2019-20, by 1,79,147 students. This level of absolute decline has never happened in the recent past for any group.
  • UP accounts for 36% of the total decline in Muslim enrollment, followed by Jammu and Kashmir (26%), Maharashtra (8.5%), Tamil Nadu (8.1%), Gujarat (6.1%), Bihar (5.7%) and Karnataka (3.7%).
  • Muslims constitute about 4.6% of total enrollment in higher education while they represent about 15% of society.
  • Among major states, in 2020-21, Muslims did not do better than Dalits except in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Delhi. Kerala tops in the percentage of Muslim youth (43%) who are currently attending higher education.

Factors behind declining enrollment of Muslim students

  • Lack of job opportunities: Muslim students face a high unemployment rate, which means that they may not see higher education as a path to a good job.
  • Discrimination: There is discrimination in the job market against Muslim candidates. Studies have shown that Muslim candidates are less likely to be invited to job interviews compared to candidates with Brahmin or Dalit names.
  • Economic factors: Muslim students may not have the financial means to pursue higher education, and may have to work to support themselves and their families. This can lead to a high dropout rate.
  • Violence and ghettoization: Violence against Muslims has increased, which has led to a sense of fear and insecurity, and has restricted their mobility. This has resulted in a trend towards ghettoization.
  • Discriminatory policies: Some state governments have stopped providing financial support to Muslim students pursuing higher education. This has made it more difficult for them to access higher education opportunities.

All you need to know about Sachar Committee report, 2006

  • The Sachar Committee was commissioned by the Indian government in response to concerns about the social and economic status of Muslims in India.
  • The committee surveyed the status of Muslims across various parameters, including education, employment, and access to social services.
  • The report found that Muslims in India were disproportionately affected by poverty, illiteracy, and lack of access to basic services such as healthcare and sanitation.
  • The report highlighted the need for affirmative action policies to address the marginalization of Muslims, such as reservations in education and employment.
  • The report also recommended the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission to address discrimination against Muslims and other minority communities in India.
  • The Sachar Committee Report sparked a national debate about the social and economic status of Muslims in India and led to increased attention on the issue of affirmative action for marginalized communities.

Policy recommendations to address low Muslim students enrollment

  • Initiate positive discrimination policies: The government could implement policies such as sub-quotas for Muslims within the OBC quota to improve their access to higher education opportunities.
  • Provide scholarships and fellowships: The government could provide greater financial support to minority students pursuing higher education, such as scholarships and fellowships, to help them overcome economic barriers.
  • Address discrimination in the job market: The government could work to create more job opportunities for Muslims and address discrimination in the job market to help improve their economic prospects.
  • Promote social and economic equality: The overall goal should be to promote greater social and economic equality for Muslims in India, which could involve a range of policies and initiatives focused on education, employment, and other areas.


  • The All-India Survey on Higher Education highlights the deepening marginalisation of the Muslim community in higher education and the need for the government to take action to address the situation. Positive discrimination in favour of Muslims, as recommended by the Sachar Committee Report, is the need of the hour to ensure equitable access to higher education for all communities. Without such efforts, India will not be able to realise its potential and contribute to the harmonious development of society.

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SC quota for Dalit Muslims and Christians

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