PM Modi’s remark about setting up of two colleges per day in India lacks context

PM Modi’s remark about setting up of two colleges per day in India lacks context

By: soham shah&
March 29 2024

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PM Modi’s remark about setting up of two colleges per day in India lacks context

(Source: Facebook/Wikimedia Commons/Modified by Logically Facts)

During his recent keynote address at the News18 Rising Bharat Summit on March 20, 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “Today, our government is establishing educational institutes at a rapid pace. Over the past 10 years, two new colleges have been established in India every day. Additionally, one new university has been established each week (translated from Hindi).”

(Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark can be heard around the 2:41 mark)

However, a look at the data shows that growth is largely driven by private or state-managed institutions, not just the central ones. We have reached out to the prime minister’s office to clarify whether he meant the Union government was responsible for establishing these institutions or he was referring to privately-owned institutions and the ones built by state governments as well. 

These remarks assume significance as India is going for Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to commence from April 19, with results set for June 4.

The same claim was earlier shared on social media in September 2021, when an X (formerly Twitter) post by the Bharatiya Janata Party's official account claimed that the PM Modi-led government had “set up two colleges every day since 2014.”

Screenshot 2024-03-29 at 3.22.25 PM

Screenshot of the tweet. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

What does the data reveal?

Since PM Modi mentioned “over the last 10 years,” we looked at the data between 2014 and 2024. Breaking down his calculation, establishing two colleges per day would mean 7,300 colleges during this period while establishing one university per week would mean 520 universities in the same timeframe.

To verify this, we scoured through the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) published by the India's Union Ministry of Education's Department of Higher Education. The latest AISHE survey available is for the year 2021-2022. Consequently, instead of a 10-year timeframe, we analyzed data for the eight years between 2014, when PM Modi assumed office, and 2022.

The survey for 2013-2014, providing a snapshot of higher education before PM Modi came to power, documented 36,634 colleges and 723 universities across India. Conversely, the survey for 2021-2022 revealed 45,473 colleges and 1,168 universities.


Computing these figures, we discovered that between 2014 and 2022, India saw the establishment of 8,839 colleges and 445 universities. Remember, our calculation based on PM Modi's 10-year estimate projected 7,300 colleges and 520 universities for the same period. Clearly, the actual eight-year figures exceed the 10-year projection in terms of colleges, while there is a gap of 75 institutions when it comes to universities. 

On an average, in eight years 3.02 colleges were established per day and 1.069 universities established per week. These figures closely align with Modi's claims of two colleges per day and one university per week, even when considered over an eight-year period.

But there’s a catch. Only a small percentage of universities and colleges in India were established by the Union Government between 2014 and 2022.

The number of universities

Our investigation revealed that while several universities were established in India between 2014 and 2022, this expansion was primarily driven by state-level universities, both public and private, rather than central universities.

The data from the AISHE survey only encompasses universities and colleges that have participated in its surveys, as opposed to all recognized institutions in India. In the 2013-14 survey, 702 universities out of a total of 723 responded, while in 2021-22, 1,162 out of 1,168 universities responded.

According to AISHE data, based on respondents, out of the 445 universities established between 2014 and 2022, only 11 were central universities (2.47 percent), whereas 357 were private or state-owned universities (80.22 percent). The categories of Deemed University-Government and Deemed University-Government Aided also witnessed a decrease of three and one institutions, respectively. 

A Deemed University is defined as “a high-performing institute, which has been so declared by Central Government under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.” The ones that receive government aid are categorized as Deemed University-Government Aided.

According to the 2013-2014 survey, India had a total of 723 universities, categorized as follows:

  • 42 were central universities
  • One was a central open university
  • 68 were Institutes of National Importance (INI), including institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Technology, which are autonomous institutions set up by an Act of Parliament and funded by the central government.

In contrast, the 2021-2022 survey reported a total of 1,168 universities in India:

  • 53 were central universities (an increase of 11) 
  • One was a central open university
  • 153 were Institutes of National Importance (an increase of 85)

The graph illustrates the change in each category of university between 2014 and 2022, highlighting that private state universities drove the growth, followed by state public universities.

It's worth noting that the 2013-2014 survey had a category labeled ‘Other,’ which was absent in the 2021-2022 survey. However, this category in the former encompassed only four universities.

It may also be noted that Institutes of National Importance are a separate category, but even if they were to be considered a part of the central government’s tally owing to the funding, the numbers (11 + 85 = 96) will still not add up to what has been claimed, nor would it surpass the increase in state-level universities.

What about colleges?

Similar to the situation observed with universities, we discovered that the surge in colleges has been predominantly driven by private unaided institutions, rather than those affiliated with central universities. 

Private unaided institutions are managed by an individual, trust, society or other private organization, which is either not receiving any grant or has received a one time ad-hoc grant for a specific purpose like building construction, strengthening of library or laboratory, etc, but not receiving regular maintenance.

Analyzing AISHE data from the 2014-15 survey to the 2021-2022 survey, we found the following distribution of colleges established during these eight years:

  • 5,244 (74.46 percent) were private unaided
  • 1,339 (19.01 percent) were government
  • 459 (6.51 percent) were private aided

According to AISHE, private aided institutions are managed by individuals, trusts, societies, or other private organizations and receive regular maintenance grants from a government or local body (panchayats, municipalities, cantonment boards, town area committees, etc).

The graph illustrates this pattern both before and after the BJP-led government assumed power, highlighting the consistent dominance of private unaided colleges in the growth trajectory over the years.

The AISHE data is derived from 7,042 colleges established between 2014 and 2022 (out of a total of 8,839), all of which participated in the surveys.

It's worth noting that AISHE does not differentiate between state and central government colleges in its data, so we lack information on how many of the 1,339 newly established government colleges were initiated by state or central governments. Even if all 1,339 government colleges were attributed to the central government, it would still fall short of the estimate provided by PM Modi or claimed by the BJP.

Further, even if all the private aided colleges were attributed to the central government, the total would still be significantly below the required number.

From the data, it's apparent that while the number of universities and colleges in India has increased between 2014 and 2022, these institutes were not only established by the central government led by the BJP.

Logically Facts has reached out to the Education Secretary for clarification on the prime minister's statement and the underlying data used. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.

(Edited by Shreyashi Roy and Nitish Rampal)

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