Higher Education in India: a Socio-Historical Journey from Ancient Period to 2006-07


  • Sujit Kumar Choudhary


The socio-historical journey of higher education in India has evolved through different periods, viz., ancient, mediaeval, colonial, post independence and contemporary. In this journey, a system of English education takes a position in higher institutions of learning. The institutions of higher learning are considered the most important agency of social change, social transformation, and entire development of the country. In fact, this journey of higher education started with an ancient system of education in the Vedic period in which two types of educational system were present there, viz., the Brahminical and the Buddhist systems of education. The Brahminical system of education was regulated by religious values, while the Buddhist form of education was „secular‟ in nature. But the major change in Indian higher education took place through the initiatives of British rulers that made an impact both in positive and negative ways. At that time, the indigenous system of education received a severe setback as the British system created a new class which served the British rulers. At present, the number of institutions in India is more than four times the total number of institutions in both the USA and Europe. However, the average size of an Indian higher education institution in terms of enrolment numbers is much smaller (500-600) to that of Europe and the USA (3,000-4,000) and China (8,000-9,000). The Knowledge Commission recently advocated the need of expansion of Universities and Colleges in India. Therefore, this paper focuses mainly on the socio-historical development of higher education in India from ancient period through to the present. It examines the pattern of increase of educational institutions, faculty positions, and student enrolment.


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