Empowerment through Education: A Comprehensive Analysis of Muslim-Managed Higher Education Institutions in India

Education is a vital component of development and empowerment. Sadly, Muslims in India have low representation in education, especially in higher education. Various factors contribute to this issue, and one aspect that warrants examination is the role of community efforts in establishing and managing educational institutions.

This study aimed to investigate these community efforts by analysing the number of institutions founded or managed by Muslims, their growth over time, regional disparities, and their enrolment status. To accomplish this, a rigorous method was employed to compile a list of higher education institutions established or managed by Muslims, utilising data from the AISHE, AICTE, NCMEI, and Muslim Educational Society groups.

The study found that Muslim-managed institutions make up a small proportion of higher education institutions in India. Specifically, they represent only 2.1% of the universities and 2.6% of the colleges. Additionally, Muslims are disproportionately underrepresented in technical colleges, comprising only 16.6% of the total, compared to other minority groups, who hold an 83.4% share. The compound annual growth rate of Muslim-managed colleges was found to be 2.8%. Moreover, the number of colleges per lakh-eligible population (individuals aged 18-23) varies significantly across states, ranging from 24.9 in Kerala to 1.8 in West Bengal, compared to the national average of 6.4.

The data also suggest that Muslim students primarily opt for Undergraduate Programs (90.6%), followed by Postgraduate Programs (7.5%). Meanwhile, M.Phil. and PhD programs account for 0.02% and 0.17%, respectively. This underrepresentation can also be attributed to the limited availability of higher degree courses, as approximately 93.16% of colleges offer undergraduate programs, 37.75% offer postgraduate programs, and only 6.32% provide an M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses.

The findings from this study shed light on the state of higher education in the Muslim community in India and highlight the need for targeted interventions from policymakers, educational stakeholders, and the community itself.

Keyword: Higher Education, Muslim, Marginalisation, Empowerment, India


Education is universally acknowledged as a fundamental human right and a crucial catalyst for personal, social, and economic development. It empowers individuals by providing them with knowledge, nurturing critical thinking skills, and enabling their active participation in society. The transformative power of education is evident in its ability to shape attitudes, expand opportunities, and break the cycle of discrimination and inequalities. Nonetheless, the low enrolment of Muslims in the education system poses a significant barrier to their socioeconomic advancement (Sachar Committee Report, 2006).

The Sachar Committee report of 2006 highlighted the glaring disparities faced by Muslims, revealing their disadvantaged position across various development indicators, even falling behind Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Despite the passage of 17 years since the release of the Sachar committee report, little progress has been made, but substantial challenges persist.

Despite constituting 14% of India's population, Muslims continue to be underrepresented in higher education. Recent data from the All-India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) for the academic year 2021-22 underscores this reality, indicating that their enrolment in higher education is only 4.8%, even lower than the SCs and STs, which have 15.3% and 6.3% enrolled students, respectively. Within institutions of national importance, such as IITs, IIITs, IISERs, NITs, and IIMs, the situation is even dire, with only 1.76% of Muslim students enrolled (AISHE 2021-22). 

Even 17 years after the Sachar Committee report, not much progress has been made. In 2006, when the Sachar Committee report was released, Muslim enrolment was 3.6%. Despite efforts to improve this number, the first AISHE report from 2012-13 indicated that Muslim enrolment had only increased by 0.6% after six years. A decade later, the AISHE report reported an additional increase of only 0.6%. In contrast, other socially disadvantaged groups such as SCs and STs have made significant progress, with their enrolment increasing from 2.4% in 2006 to 15.3% and 6.3% in 2021-22, respectively. This glaring underrepresentation not only hampers the socio-economic progress of Muslim communities, but also impedes the overall development of the nation.

Several factors contribute to the exclusion of Muslims from higher education, including, but not limited to, neglect on the part of the state, discrimination, financial hardship, and communal tension (Tabish, K. Mohammad, 2017 & Sachar Committee Report, 2006). Despite these challenges, a commonly overlooked yet significant factor in the low representation of Muslims in higher education is the absence of concerted efforts by the community itself to establish and manage institutions aimed at promoting education among its members. This study aimed to analyse such efforts to provide a comprehensive understanding of the state of Muslim-managed higher education institutions, which could be used in policy making and advocacy.


The aim of this study is to investigate the number of higher education institutions established and managed by Muslims in each state across the country. This study analyses the growth of higher education institutions over time, as well as the distribution of students by gender, caste, and religion. Additionally, it examines the demographics of these institutions, the level of education they offer, and the range of available programs. By shedding light on these critical factors, this study provides valuable insights into the state of higher education institutions of Muslim minorities in the country. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first study of its kind to explore the state of Muslim-managed higher education institutions in India.


This study adopted a rigorous mechanism for listing all such institutions in a country affiliated with a Muslim minority. The list includes all such institutions that have been granted Muslim minority status by the government or founded by Muslims or Muslim groups. The mechanism adopted to update the list of institutions are:-

  • Identifying Muslim institutions through the list of institutions provided by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) – 2022-23
  • Identifying Muslim institutions through the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) database of higher education institutions (2020-21 survey database)
  • Identifying Muslim institutions through National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) database
  • Identifying institutions through Muslim Education Society Groups

This study was conducted between January 2023 and June 2023.


1 - Number of Higher Education Institutions

From various sources, a total of 1,155 colleges and 23 universities were identified. This accounts for only 2.6% of the total number of colleges and 2.1% of the total number of universities listed in the 2020-21 AISHE database, which includes 1,113 universities and 43,796 colleges.

2 - Technical Colleges

Among the 1,155 Muslim-managed colleges, 141 were technical colleges registered with the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). In contrast, the other minority groups collectively possessed 710 AICTE-registered colleges, accounting for 83.4% of all minority institutions. Notably, while Muslims constitute 73.4% of all minority groups, their representation in technical colleges is just 16.6%. Conversely, other minority groups, comprising 26.6% of the population, held an 83.4% share of technical colleges (Fig. 1). These figures highlight the concerning state of education among Muslims.

Figure 1: Share in technical College vs Share in Population

3 - Number of Colleges per Lakh Population

The number of colleges per lakh eligible population (population in the age-group 18-23 years) varies significantly across states, ranging from 24.9 in Kerala to 1.8 in West Bengal, compared to the national average of 6.4 (Fig. 2). This indicates that at the national level, each college serves a substantial population of over 15,000 students. However, it is noteworthy that a substantial proportion (nearly 62.8%) of Muslim colleges enrol 500 students or fewer (Fig. 3)

Figure 2: State-wise Colleges per Lakh Population
Figure 3: Enrolment Strength in Colleges

4 - State with Highest Number of Colleges

The top 10 states in terms of the number of Colleges in India are Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir. These ten states account for 90.47% of the total colleges in the country (Table 1). In terms of colleges per lakh population, Kerala had the highest number, followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (Table 1 & 2).

5 - Increase in Number of Colleges over the Years

In 1947, following India's independence, there were only 17 Muslim colleges in the country. However, over the course of 75 years, this number increased to 1,155. This increase represented a compound annual growth rate of 2.8%. Examining the data further, it is evident that the decade–2001-2010 experienced the highest growth in the number of colleges, while the period–2011-2020 recorded the lowest growth rate (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: Growth in Number of Colleges

6 - Level of Programme and Courses

Most of the colleges (93.16%) run undergraduate-level programs and only 6.32% run PhD programs (Fig. 5). Approximately 51% of colleges provide only undergraduate programs, and no other programs. Additionally, most colleges offer Art, Science and Commerce courses (Fig. 6). There are 48.13% colleges that run only single programs, and among these, 39.15% run only B.Ed. programme (Fig. 7).

Figure 5: Level of Education in Colleges (in %)
Figure 6: Course Offered in Colleges (in %)
Figure 7: Only Single Program Offered in Colleges (in %)

7 - Management and Location of Colleges

Among the 1,155 colleges surveyed, a substantial percentage of 83.1% were private (unaided) institutions and 10.6% were private (aided) colleges. Government colleges accounted for 3.9% of the total, with the remaining colleges operated by local bodies (Fig. 8). A significant proportion of colleges (57.8%) were situated in rural areas, while 42.2% were located in urban areas (Fig. 9).

Figure 8: Management of Colleges
Figure 9: Location of Colleges

8 - Strength of Colleges

The majority of colleges had relatively small enrolment numbers. Approximately 19.7% of colleges had an enrolment of fewer than 100 students, while 43.1% of colleges had a student strength between 101 and 500. This indicates that 62.8% of colleges enrol 500 students or fewer (Fig. 10).

9 - Enrolment

a. Overall Enrolment

The data revealed that among the students enrolled in colleges, the majority (89.3%) were pursuing undergraduate programs, while only 8% were enrolled in postgraduate courses. Representation of students in Phil. and Ph.D. programs were even lower, accounting for less than 1% (Fig. 11). Regarding Muslims, it was found that following the overall pattern, Muslim students predominantly opted for Undergraduate Programs (90.6%). The estimated enrolment for Postgraduate Programs was 7.5%, while M. Phil. and PhD programs accounted for 0.02% and 0.17%, respectively (Fig. 12). The data emphasise the insufficient representation of students in research-oriented courses, such as Phil. and Ph.D. This underrepresentation can also be attributed to the limited availability of such courses, with approximately 93.16% of colleges offering undergraduate programs, 37.75% offering postgraduate programs, and only 6.32% providing an M.Phil. and PhD courses (Fig. 5).

Figure 11: Overall Enrolment across Programs

b. Religion and Gender-wise Enrolment

According to the estimated number of enrolled students, the Hindu community constitutes the majority, with 55.1% of the students, followed by the Muslim community (Fig. 13). 

In terms of gender distribution, female students surpassed male students in all religious communities. A higher proportion of female students in enrolment was observed within the Other Minority groups, followed by the Muslim community (Fig. 14). However, there was a noticeable difference between college and university regarding gender distribution. In colleges, female students outnumber male students across all religious communities, whereas in universities, the opposite is observed, with male students surpassing female students across religious communities.

Figure 14: Gender-wise Enrolment

c. Social Group wise Enrolment

Among the total estimated cohort of enrolled students, the largest portion was represented by students in the unreserved category, followed by students in the OBC category (Fig. 15).

d. Programme-wise Enrolment

In alignment with the overall student distribution across programs, the majority of Muslim students are also enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts, Science, and Commerce programs. These three courses collectively encompass 64.2% of the total student enrolment among Muslim students (Fig. 16).

Figure 16: Program wise Enrolment

e. Discipline-wise Enrolment

After examining the distribution of Muslim student enrolment in various fields of study, it is evident that Arts, Science, and Commerce disciplines have the highest number of students, followed by Engineering & Technology. Arts, Science, and Commerce disciplines together comprise 58.32% of the overall student enrolment (Fig. 17).

Figure 17: Discipline wise Enrolment

f. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)

The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of Muslims in higher education, is calculated using population projections from the 2011 Census for the 18-23 age group. The GER for Muslim students in Muslim colleges is estimated to be 1.23, while in universities, it is significantly lower at 0.23. When these figures are combined, the overall GER for Muslims in higher education amounts to 1.46 (Fig. 18). According to Arum C Mehta (2023) Report, the national average of Muslim students’ Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) between the age group 18 and 23 is 8.41%, with women performing better with a higher GER of 9.43% and males (8.44%).

Figure 18: Gross Enrolment Ratio of Muslim Students in Muslim managed Higher Education Institutions


The findings of this study highlight several salient points regarding the state of higher education in the Muslim community in India. Firstly, the low representation of Muslim-managed institutions, comprising merely 2.1% of universities and 2.6% of colleges, highlights an evident gap in educational infrastructure compared to their demographic presence. This disparity gives rise to significant questions regarding the availability and inclusivity of higher education opportunities for the Muslim community as well as the initiatives taken by community leaders in establishing academic institutions. Furthermore, the disparity between technical education institutions is particularly striking. Despite constituting a significant portion of the minority population, Muslims exhibit a disproportionately low presence in technical colleges, claiming only 16.6% share. This disparity is notably pronounced when compared with other minority groups, which command an 83.4% share of technical institutions. Moreover, the varied distribution of colleges across states emphasises notable differences in educational access at the regional level. Differences in the number of colleges per lakh population highlight inequalities in educational resources, and indicate the level of interest and opportunities within each area. Notably, Kerala, known for its high literacy rates, has the highest number of colleges per lakh population compared with other states.

Enrolment patterns further elucidate nuanced dynamics within the educational landscape. The predominance of smaller colleges with limited enrolments, coupled with a predominant focus on undergraduate programs, poses challenges for accommodating the educational needs of the Muslim community. Additionally, gender and social group representation in enrolment patterns reveal complex socioeconomic dynamics that influence educational access. While female students exhibit higher enrolment rates across colleges, universities portray a contrasting trend, with male students predominating. Such disparities necessitate nuanced approaches to address the underlying socioeconomic barriers affecting educational access and inclusivity among diverse demographic groups.


The empirical insights provided by this study offer critical insights into the landscape of higher education in the Muslim community in India. The documented disparities in institutional representation, technical education participation, geographical distribution, and enrolment patterns underscore the multifaceted challenges impeding equitable access to higher education and the inclusive development of the nation as a whole. These challenges require concerted efforts from policymakers, educational stakeholders, and the community to formulate targeted interventions.


This is to acknowledge the contributions of the Centre for Study and Research (CSR), Delhi, and Nous Network, Delhi, in facilitating this study. The collaborative effort between CSR and the Nous Network was instrumental in conducting this study. Special thanks to Prof. Mohammad Rizwan from CSR and Ali Javed from the Nous Network.


  • All India Council for Technical Education (2022-23) https://facilities.aicte-india.org/dashboard/pages/angulardashboard.php#!/approved
  • Mehta, A. C. (2023). The State of Muslim Education in India: A Data Driven Analysis
  • Ministry of Higher Education, Government of India. (2023). All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2021-22 [Report]. 
  • Ministry of Higher Education, Government of India. (2022). All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 [Report].
  • National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) https://ncmei.gov.in/
  • Sachar, R. (2006). Sachar Committee Report. Government of India.
  • Tabish, K. Mohammad (2017). Muslims on the Margin in Higher Education: An Indian Perspective. JYOTIRMAY, 52.