University numbers boomed between 2015 and 2020, but private institutions grew at a much faster pace, both in number and enrollment.

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In the top 100 universities according to the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), which was published in 2021, there were 11 young universities. All ten of these were private universities founded during the last 15 years and were chosen from the nation’s official list of higher education institutions.

More private universities are represented than recently founded public universities, and the data also reveals that these universities have kept up their impressive NIRF metrics performance. The most recent All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) report demonstrates that these accomplishments are supported by data. 30 new private universities were founded from 2015 to 2020, according to AISHE. Private university enrollment increased significantly across all academic levels during the same time period.

Over 200 new universities

The number of universities and other similar institutions listed on the AISHE portal climbed from 799 in 2015–16 to 1,043 in 2019–20, a growth of about 30.5 percent, according to the most recent AISHE data. 30 new private universities and 57 new state-run universities were founded during this time period. However, the expansion was uneven, particularly in the case of private universities. Private universities emerged in groups and only in a few states, whereas public universities saw single-digit growth in the majority of states. According to AISHE 2019–20, 22 of the total new private universities were founded in Andhra Pradesh between 2015 and 2020. Andhra Pradesh lacked a private university in 2015.

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, with 19 and 16, respectively, also saw a high number of new private universities.

Overall, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan are the states with the most private universities. Between 2015 and 2020, a sizable number of new universities popped up in the majority of states.

New state universities were being added at a much slower rate than private universities. Every state that established a new university had a one-digit increase in enrollment.

Enrolment doubled

Along with expanding enrollment at private institutions, the number of new universities has increased. State public universities continue to teach the greatest segment of students by a very wide margin, even if overall enrollment in central and state universities climbed from 2012 to 2016; nevertheless, the numbers seem to have plateaued. On the other hand, enrollment at state-owned private institutions increased by more than a factor of two during that time.

Both men and women followed a similar pattern in terms of overall enrollment figures. Over the 2015–2020 period, enrollment in central universities decreased for men from 3.8 lakh to 3.7 lakh, while it increased slightly for women from 3.3 lakh to 3.4 lakh. Men’s enrollment decreased from 1.35 lakh to 1.27 lakh while women’s enrollment increased slightly from 1.27 lakh to 1.29 lakh at state universities. From 1.7 lakh in 2015–16 to 4.4 lakh in 2019–20, the number of women enrolling in private colleges more than doubled over this time. Men’s enrollment in private universities increased from 4.2 lakh to 8.3 lakh, almost doubling as well. Undergraduate, postgraduate, and research levels of higher education all followed the trend.

Undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD

State institutions showed a little gain in undergraduate enrollment, while central universities reported a slight decline. The number of students at private universities climbed by more than twice as much during the same time period.

Enrollment in postgraduate programmes increased somewhat at central universities while it decreased slightly at state institutions. Private universities once more increased admissions by double.

All kinds of universities reported an increase in enrollment for PhD programmes. However, enrollment numbers at private universities tripled.

NIRF rankings

According to the NIRF rankings, new private institutions have improved in terms of both quality and enrollment growth. In the country’s top 100 universities, the most recent NIRF rankings included 11 new institutions. Ten of those were private colleges founded after 2007. Additionally, these colleges consistently outperformed their peers on NIRF criteria, which helped to raise or maintain their rankings over time. When the NIRF rankings were first introduced in 2016, new universities were well-represented in them. 18 new universities appeared in the top 100 rankings of the NIRF that year. Eight of these institutions were public, while ten were private. However, following NIRF rankings did not give the newer colleges, particularly new public universities, as much prominence.

Only seven new universities were included in the top 100 NIRF rankings in 2017, and the only public university was the Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. As more and more new private colleges began to appear in the NIRF rankings, the trend persisted. Among the new universities listed in the NIRF top 100 in 2018, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University was the sole public university. The last six were all personal. The Central University of Punjab joined Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University in 2019.

Eight new institutions entered the top 100 NIRF rankings in 2020, with the Central University of Punjab being the lone public institution. The number of private institutions on the list increased to 11 in 2021 with the addition of three new ones, although the Central University of Punjab remained the only public university. Ten new colleges were listed in the NIRF ranking for 2022. Regarding private universities, they appeared more frequently among the top 100 NIRF rankings compared to 2017.

Private universities in NIRF
InstitutionNIRF Rank
201620172018201920202021
Siksha `O`
Anusandhan
162024242020
JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research354537343334
Narsee Monjee Institute of
Management Studies
729855575755
Shiv Nadar
University
6048525656
NITTE8377707477

The private university with the best performance in NIRF rankings since it was founded was Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan in Odisha. In the NIRF 2016 rankings, it reached a high of 16, and in the NIRF 2021 rankings, it reached a high of 20. It is back in the 16th position in the NIRF ranking for 2022. Along with the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, and SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan was the only new university to appear in every NIRF ranking from 2016. In NIRF 2022, the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, which has consistently performed second among new universities, was rated 34.

Over the years, Shiv Nadar University has consistently performed admirably in the NIRF rankings. Up until 2020, the university—which made its debut in the top 100 in 2017—ranked third among newly established institutions in the NIRF. Shiv Nadar University, which was placed 56th, outperformed Chandigarh University, which came in at 52, and SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, which came in at 55. Shiv Nadar University dropped to number 61 in NIRF 2022.

Mayank Tewari

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