Womens Higher Education in India

S.BARATHI asked:




            Inducement of social change as one of the fundamental functions of education has been spelt out in the report of the Indian Education Commission (1964-66) thus:

            “The realization of the country’s aspirations involves changes in the knowledge, skills and values of the people as a whole.  If this ‘change in a grand scale’ is to be achieved without a violent revolution there is one and only instrument that can be used – Education”.


            Education is the nourishment of the mind with knowledge this is practiced purposefully and productively.

            Education disciplines the mind, sharpens the intellect and refines the spirit.  It shapes and polishes a rough unknown diamond into a multifaceted kohinoor  sparkling with scintillating brilliance.  Its the development of integrated personality that unfolds itself to the highest wisdom.  Its a continuous process.

            The philosopher President Dr.Radhakrishnan (1948) said, “There cannot be educated people without educated women.  If general education has to be limited to men or women, that opportunity should be given to women from them it would most surely be passed on to the next generation”.


            Higher education is defined as the education attained after the completion of 12 years of schooling.  Higher education for women has gained a wider role and responsibility all over the world.  Today, in the 21st century, we cannot afford to ignore the importance of higher education for women any longer.  The reason for its need and urgency is that there is no biological difference in the systems of males and females.  Unfortunately, this important task of higher education of women has remain neglected for centuries.  Need for higher education among women assumes all the more importance or the 3rd world countries, where colonialism has remained a great force hindering education for the general masses and for the women in particular.


            To provide society with competent men and women trained in agriculture, arts, medicine, science and technology and various other professions, who will also be cultivated individuals in built with a sense of social purpose.

            To strive to promote equality an social justice and to reduce social and cultural differences through diffusion of education.


            Higher Education may also be viewed in terms of the needs of its consumers.  The term consumer is very wide and heterogeneous.  It includes young and old of both sexes.  Theoretically the need for Higher Education for both males and females is the same.  But its sometime argued that males and females are different in their social and cultural needs.

            The basic argument which is given for women Higher Education is not that Higher Education for women is different from that of men.  Our main thrust is that in the field of Higher Education, women should also be equal partners.  Our past experience shows that so far Higher Education has remained restricted only to men.  It should now widen its horizon and include women also.  The commission on the Higher Education for women, University of Madras in 1979 rightly observed: “for Women and men college education is necessary for character formation, ability to earn, creative self expression and personal development”.


Success :

a)                  Women are strongly motivated to succeed in the education stream.

b)                  The merit basis of the education system permits females to excel.

c)                  Prejudice against women’s education has been reduced. Higher Education has come to be considered equivalent to a bride’s “dowry”.

d)                  Women’s universities promote women’s Higher Education.

e)                  Women’s expectations for education based employment are high.

f)                    Some Higher Education courses provide scholarship facilities for women.

g)                  Female students have been provided with residential facilities in some areas.

Failure :

a)                  Female students have difficulties in access to transport facilities in general.

b)                  Sexual harassment as well as occasional student violence hinder female students completion of higher education.

c)                  Marriage in many cases leads to early withdraw.

d)                  Gender stereotyping inhibits completion of studies.

e)                  Financial constraints can cause withdrawal from the education stream.

f)                    Part-time work to earn living interferes with studies.


            The objective of the Indian Society as has been laid down in the constitution is to achieve a democratic, socialistic and egalitarian society.  In such a society women are supposed to perform their roles at par with men.  Their status structurally needs to be equal with men.

            Broadly speaking, knowledge which is imparted through Higher Education provides skills to its practitioners.  Our understanding is that by acquiring skills the women raise their status in comparison with men and also the status of the group to which they belong.

            In order to understand the status of women, or for that matter to understand any social issues, it is necessary to combine at least 3 perspectives viz. the perspective from policy, the perspective  from statistics and the perspective from culture.

·              The present study is aimed at finding the various reasons for women seeking entry into higher education.

·              It aims at looking at the reasons for seeking entry into higher education by women from the perspective of men, teachers, parents and the women themselves.

·              It bring about an awareness among women as to the various avenues open to them in Higher Education and thus mark the beginning of a major process of empowering women.

·              To find out the problems hindering the pursuit of Higher Education by women.

·              Make suggestions for finding solutions to the above problems in a rational and free manner.

·              To suggest ways  of enhancing women’s entry into colleges, including professional course.

·              To explore areas of Higher Education where women have not yet stepped in or are a monopoly of men.

·               To suggest suitable measures to make higher education for women universal i.e. free of cost, time and distance effective.



The social context of educational policy has to be improved.

Family and personal counseling at the secondary education stage can be provided.

Higher education can be made skill oriented.

Nontraditional curricula for women can be established.

Recent declines in state support for non-traditional higher education has to be reversed.

Institutions can be made physically accessible i.e. Locate them near the potential clientele, improve transport system etc.

Higher Education  Institutions have to be made more women-friendly i.e. Physical Changes, curricula changes, social changes.

Women’s representation on institutions decision-making bodies can be increased.

Equal opportunity commissions for higher education institutions should be established.

The number of women teachers in co-educational institutions of higher education should be increased.

Stipends, Scholarships and fellowships can be linked to affirmative action programmes.

Women need to be recruited into administrative training programmes for institutions of higher education.

A large role for women’s study centres can be provided.

Institutions of higher education should provide placement services.

Barriers to women’s career entry should be removed, example: employers should be sensitized to the value of flexitime, day-care centres etc.

Sexual harassment in the educational environment should be addressed.

A large number of female secondary education graduates usually are not able to enter university.  To accommodate that population it would be benefited to strengthen the role of vocational training institutions.  Post secondary vocational training institutions should take action to promote entry of women into vocational training lines traditionally considered male preserves.

            Affirmative action quotas has to be provided to promote women’s admission into higher institutions, where such quotas exist, should be reviewed periodically to ensure their continuing relevance.

            Where quotas are provides for specific disadvantaged groups like disabled persons, people from remote or rural areas, members of indigenous minorities, a minimum share should be reserved for female members of those groups.

            Distance education and open learning institutions and techniques should be promoted, particularly to extend higher education opportunities to women in rural and remote areas, which will take into account their needs.


            The present study is limited only to women students seeking higher education up to undergraduate level in a few professional and non-professional colleges of Chennai city.  The following suggestions are given for further investigation.

1.                  A similar study may be conducted among the postgraduate level or research level students.

2.                  A similar study may be undertaken throughout Tamil Nadu State.

3.                  A comparative study of factors influencing entry of women in higher education can be made between a developing and developed country.

4.                  A similar study may be attempted for various issues relating higher education of women.    


Comments are closed.