India as one of the largest higher education systems in the world, with 25.9 million students enrolled in more than 45,000 degree and diploma institutions in the country. It has witnessed particularly high growth in the last decade, with enrollment of students increasing at a CAGR of 10.8% and institutions at a CAGR of 9%. The private sector has played an instrumental role in this growth, with private institutions now accounting for 64% of the total number of institutions and 59% of enrollment in the country, as compared to 43% and 33%, respectively, a decade ago. The Government has also given the required thrust to the sector in its Five Year Plans. During the Eleventh Plan period (2007–2012), India achieved a Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of 17.9%, up from 12.3% at the beginning of the Plan period. Various legislative actions were also taken during this period, including the introduction of the Higher Education and Research Bill, the Educational Tribunal Bill and the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, to enhance transparency and quality in the sector. However, in spite of the significant progress made during the past few years, India's higher education sector is still plagued with several challenges, e.g., its relatively low GER, inequitable access to higher education by community, gender and geography, and lack of high-quality research and education institutions, resulting in sub-optimal outcomes. The Twelfth Plan recognizes these challenges and proposes several initiatives around six focus areas to address them.
Expansion – augmenting capacity in existing institutions
Equity - creating targeted schemes for backward and minority communities
Excellence - building excellence through research and innovation, faculty development, and internationalization
Governance - enhancing institutional autonomy and transparency
Funding – increasing public and private funding and linking them to outcomes
Implementation and monitoring – improving co-ordination across ministries and agencies The Twelfth Plan emphasizes on building "excellence" in India's higher education system. Several institutions are already pursuing this objective, albeit in a less holistic manner.