CSES in Media

Tracking the winds of change

This report on CSES study was published in The Hindu on June 06, 2011

A study conducted by Centre for Socio-economic and Environmental Studies finds key changes in the enrolment patterns and student profile in arts and science courses over the years in Kerala.

Enrolment patterns in arts and science colleges in Kerala seem to have undergone significant changes in the recent times. A study conducted by the Kochi-based Centre for Socio-economic and Environmental Studies (CSES) found that private-aided colleges used to dominate the arts and science college sector contributing to more than three-fourths of the number of colleges in 1991. But by 2007-08, its share came down to 44 per cent.

The number of government arts and science colleges decreased from 40 in 1991 to 39 in 2007-08. The increase in the arts and science colleges is now mostly in the self-financing sector. In 2007-08, the self-financing arts and science colleges outnumbered the aided colleges. The aided colleges also witnessed a decline in students’ strength at the undergraduate level (UG) level while there was an increase in enrolment for postgraduate (PG) courses.

The study conducted by George Zachariah, visiting fellow of CSES and supported by the Kerala State Higher Education Council, made a comparison between the profile of students in graduate and postgraduate courses who got admission in 1999 and 2006. Data from six aided arts and science colleges, three unaided/ self-financing colleges and two university departments under the Kerala University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Calicut University and the Cochin University of Science and Technology was used for the study. Self-financing courses in aided arts and science colleges were also included.

The study revealed that the share of forward communities in undergraduate courses declined from 53 per cent in 1999 admission to 36 per cent in 2006 admission. The share of ‘forward’ Christians came down steeply from 35 per cent to 19 per cent between 1999 and 2006 while that of forward caste Hindus came down to 16 per cent from 18 per cent.

Students belonging to the other backward communities increased their share in aided UG courses from 32 per cent in 1999 to 42 per cent in 2006. The share of SC/ST communities almost doubled in aided UG courses from 9 per cent in 1999 to 16 per cent in 2006. Students belonging to OEC category made marginal increase in their share (2.6 per cent to 3.8 per cent).

The share of Muslims, which was low in 1999, showed an increase between 1999 and 2006 from 14 per cent to 20 per cent. Comparison between unaided and aided courses at the under graduate level shows that the presence of SC/ST and OECs in unaided courses was much lower than in aided courses in both 1999 and 2006.

OBCs increased their share in unaided UG courses in the sample colleges from 18 per cent to 49 per cent. The share of OBCs in unaided colleges in 2006 was more than their share in aided courses. The study found that an increasing proportion of students belonging to SC/ST and OBC/OEC communities are entering aided colleges in almost all the subjects. Besides, an increasing proportion of students with poor economic status get admission to aided arts and science colleges.

The percentage of OBCs and forward caste students availing educational aid under the Kumara Pillai Commission Report (KPCR) scheme is increasing, indicating the entry of poorer segments in each community into arts and science colleges.

N. Ajith Kumar, Director of CSES, said that there has been a decline in the number of students in many subjects and courses in aided arts and science colleges. There was also an increase in the total number of students in the unaided colleges.

In the sample of aided colleges, female students outnumbered male students both during 1999 and 2006. But the share of girls in the students’ strength in aided colleges in the sample decreased from 65 per cent to 59 per cent in the UG courses while the decline was from 83 per cent to 79 per cent in the case of PG courses.

The study found that the proportion of girls at the PG level was much more than the proportion at the undergraduate level. In 1999, except in two self-financing courses, boys outnumbered girls at the UG level. But the situation changed slightly in favour of girls in 2006. The study also observed that natural sciences attracted relatively less meritorious students as compared to physical sciences.

In 1999, physics followed by chemistry and mathematics attracted more students with first class marks. In 2006, it was mathematics followed by physics and statistics which attracted more students. Natural sciences like zoology and botany attracted a smaller proportion of students.

Social sciences generally attract students with less merit as indicated by the proportion of students with first class in Plus Two/ pre-degree courses who seek admission to the undergraduate courses.

The proportion of students with first class seeking admission to B.Com. course was more than for economics but less than for sociology in 2006 while the proportion of students with first class in English classes in 2006 was the highest among all subjects including physical sciences.

The proportion of students with first class was less in self-financing colleges than in aided colleges.