On a recent visit to New Delhi, the first Indian woman to lead a state university in the country, Dr. Rajesh Rana, one of the first female professors to take up her job in the field, told The Hindu that women students are often less willing to study abroad than men, and that this gap can be attributed to the cultural factors that have shaped Indian women’s attitudes towards learning abroad.
Rana said that in a country where nearly two-thirds of the population is female, a lack of opportunities for women to study at state institutions is one of India’s biggest challenges.
The need for higher education, she said, has been growing as the country’s population ages, and is expected to reach nearly two billion by 2026.
The need for greater access to higher education and for women students to study is one that needs to be addressed urgently, Rana added.RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is among a number of prominent intellectuals and policymakers who have expressed their support for expanding higher education opportunities for female students.
In the past few years, the National Commission for Women has pushed for the creation of a National Institutes of Technology, a move that is likely to take at least another decade to implement.
In its first report in 2016, the NCCW recommended that the country increase its number of female students to 200,000, which would be more than triple the current population of just over 2.5 million.
But this proposal has been met with opposition from the ruling Congress Party, which has been pressing the government to do more to help women.