Union Budget 2016: A Step Closer to Skill India


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Emphasis on Education and Skill Development

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When the Hon’ble Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, rose to present the Union Budget on 29th February 2016, there was a sense of cautious optimism that he would bring some urgency to improve the Education and Skilling sector in India.

Has he focused on this area? Has he done enough to solve the issue of access and quality? Will his Budget proposals bring about a positive momentum?

The Budget proposals for Education & Skilling are stated below.

  • The Finance Minister has proposed to bring focus on quality in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and also proposed the opening of 62 new Navodaya Vidyalayas.
  • A new agency – HEFA (Higher Education Financing Agency) – will be formed with a seed capital of Rs. 1,000 crores. This agency will focus on improvement of infrastructure in the Higher Education sector and will raise funds through the CSR route and other sources.
  • One of the long-felt aspirations of the industry is to see some of our Indian Higher educational institutions feature in the top 100 of the world. None of the Indian universities or institutions figure in the prestigious Times lists of top 100 Universities in the world or any other global list. The present government has shown a desire to change this, which has been supported in the Budget. A regulatory architecture will soon be provided to ten public to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions.
  • To bring about standardization, a National Board for Skill Development Certification will be set up in partnership with the industry and academia. This is part of the Government’s impetus on skill initiatives, following the steps taken in the previous year (National Skills Mission, setting up of Sector Skill Councils etc.) and will be helpful for vocational institutes seeking funds / growth opportunities.
  • It has also been proposed to have courses on Entrepreneurship education and training through massive open online courses.
  • In a major move, which is likely to become a huge gamechanger, the government has proposed a Digital depository for school leaving certificates, college degrees, academic awards and mark sheets. This is part of the government’s steps towards digitization, and will become a one-stop place for all education related ecertificates. It will also help employers in the process of verification. This move is similar to the move made many years ago of shifting share certificates from the physical format to the digital format. It has eliminated all the earlier ills of fake share certificates. When the Depository for education certificates is operational, it will solve many problems – the most important being that of fake certificates.
  • Allocations have been increased substantially.


Key Announcements Planned Outlay (2016 – 17) Planned Outlay (2015 – 16)
Higher Education Financing Agency Rs. 1,000 crs Nil
Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Rs. 1,804 crs Rs. 1,500 crs
- Allocation under PM’s Kaushal Vikas Yojana Rs. 1,700 crs Nil
Plan allocation to HRD ministry (14% growth YoY) Rs 20,158 crs Rs 17,672 crs
- Dept of School Education Rs 4,913 crs Rs. 2,972 crs
- Dept of Higher Education Rs 15,245 crs Rs. 14,700 crs


The proposals in the Budget augur well for the Education and Skilling sector. There have been increased allocations across all segments. And the true game changer is the proposal for a Depository.

Given the Budgetary constraints, the Finance Minister has displayed the importance he accords to this sector and hopefully, it will give the right momentum to this sector in the long-term.

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CBSE conducts the IIT entrance exams – called JEE. There are two levels – JEE(Main) and JEE(Advanced).

The number of aspirants has dropped for the second year in a row by more than 100,000. In the current year, 1.2m students applied for JEE(Main), as against 1.3 m in 2015. The drop in numbers over the years is shown below.

In Millions

Normally, the top 150,000 aspirants from the JEE(Main) are eligible for JEE (Advanced), who eventually make it to the 10,000 seats available in 16 IITs.

This precipitous drop is probably an indication that many prefer not to now opt for JEE, given that the chances are so low. It could also be an indicator of the fact that there are more options for quality education for aspiring engineers outside of IIT.

Either way, the number of JEE takers seems to have plateaued for some time now.

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Gross Enrolment ratio (GER) is the ratio of total enrolment in Higher Education in the 18-23 years age group, as a percentage of the eligible population in that age group.

The GER in India has moved up to 23.5 per cent in 2014-15 from 21.5 per cent in 2012-13. For Men, the ratio is 24.5 per cent and it is 22.7 per cent for women.

There were 33.3 million students enrolled in 757 universities in 2014-15, as against 32.3 million enrolled in 723 universities in 2013-14.

These are some of the interesting statistics in a report recently release by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD).

These statistics augur well for the country and if this trend continues, it is possible for the country to achieve the target of 30 per cent GER by 2020.

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IISc makes it in the Times Higher Education Rankings

Yes, it’s happened finally!

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has finally made it in the global rankings of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2015-16 for engineering and technology.

IISc has just made it – at 99th rank.

Education Institutions from the US dominate the top 10 lists, with Stanford, CalTech and MIT in the top three positions.

Asia holds 25 positions in the top 100, while US holds 34 positions.

These rankings are based on evaluation of a number of factors, including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

Whilst a rank of 99 may not be flattering, it is a good debut for IISc and hopefully, it will improve next year.

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According to a recently published Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange, the number of Indian students headed to the U.S. for studies rose by 29.4 % in 2014-15. 

The number of Indian students going to the U.S., which was around 100,000 for a few years, has now risen by around 30,000 in the year 2014-15. 

Is this a surge for one year or an indicative trend? 

The number of schools has increased tremendously in the past few years. Many upwardly mobile parents want their children to learn in schools with international schools. 

Moreover, the stable exchange rate between rupee and dollar as well as the liberalized remittance policy has led to the increased sentiment of parents sending their children to the U.S. for education. 

If these factors continue in future, the trend of increase of over 25 per cent in students going to the U.S. every year will continue.

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In 2009, the number of applicants for the CAT exams had reached a high of 242,000. After that, there has been a steady decline every year.
In 2010 and 2011, it was around 205,000. In 2012, it was 214,000 followed by 195,000 in 2013 and 189,000 in 2014.
After these declining numbers, 2015 showed a marked improvement of 15 per cent to 218,664.
One possible reason is the extension of deadline of CAT from September 20th to 25th. In this extended period, 35,632 regsitration forms were sold, against 183,032 which were sold till September 20th.
Will this year’s sale of CAT forms reverse the trend of the past five years? Or, is it the magic of “last minute” extension? One only hopes that this is a rising trend and we see an increase next year as well.

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It has been 5 years since RTE (Right to Education) has become a law in India. When it was enacted, the UPA government had showcased it as a “game-changer” for the underprivileged students in India.
A key provision of this law was reservation of 25 per cent of the seats in schools to under-privileged students.
A recent study done by IIM-A and Central Square Foundation shows that only 29% of the 2.14 million seats reserved in the private sector for underprivileged have been filled.
There are wide variations – in Delhi, 92% of the seats were filled up and in UP, it was only 2%.
It would be worthwhile for all State governments who are below this national average of 29% to figure the best practices which have worked in States like Delhi and adopt these practices to lift their performance.
Hopefully, this national average of 29% will improve over the years to come.

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