Capital: New Delhi
Official language: Hindi and English
Government: Federal parliamentary republic
Area: 1,269,346 square miles/ 3,287,263 square kilometers
Population: 1.29 billion
Currency: Indian rupee (₹) (INR)
Calling code: +91
India is the perfect hub for the students who dream of quality education. With over 17,000 colleges and 383 universities, there is just no limit to what a student can get in this country, in terms of education. India offers a wide range of courses that are globally recognized. India is the second largest higher education center and studying here will surely be an enriching experience. Not only is the cost of studying in Indian universities low, but the quality of education is also known globally. Several scholarships and easy education loans are also available. Apart from this, international students are attracted towards the peaceful atmosphere, welcoming attitude and less expensive way to successful career.
With English as the medium of instruction, Indian colleges and institutes are globally recognized. This is what makes them worth it when it comes to pursuing higher degree and/or diploma courses. India offers a wide range of courses in the field of medicine, management, architecture, engineering, social science, fine arts, science, etc. Moreover, it is emerging in the field of space technology, bio-informatics, bio-technology, nano-technology and many others. Studying here becomes an interesting and exciting experience with the diverse culture that this country has to offer.
Education in India has an ancient tradition that dates back to the Vedic Period (1500 to 500 BC). By the time European colonialists arrived, education mostly took place in traditional Hindu village schools called gurukuls or in Muslim elementary and secondary schools called maktabs and madrasas. The British colonialists then imposed an education system based on the British system and introduced English as a language of instruction. The first institutions of higher learning in a Western sense to emerge in British India were the University of Calcutta, the University of Bombay, and the University of Madras, all Founded in 1857 based on the model of British universities.
- Pre-Elementary Level
- Elementary Level
- Upper Elementary Level/ Middle School
- Secondary Level
- Higher Secondary Level
Types of Higher Education Institutions
Compared with other education systems, India’s has a large variety of HEIs. India’s UGC Act of 1956 specifies that only universities that were established by federal, state, or provincial legislation or institutions that have been granted the status of a deemed university by the federal government, are allowed to award academic degrees in India. Thus, there are five types of institutions with degree-granting authority:
Central Universities (also called Union Universities) are established, overseen, and funded by the federal government, mostly through UGC grants. There are presently 40 central universities directly under the MHRD. In addition, there are seven federal universities, including the Indian Maritime University and Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University, which fall under other federal government bodies like the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Tuition fees at most central universities are nominal, but the UGC has in recent years repeatedly asked central universities to increase to make them less dependent on federal funding. Examples of central universities include the prestigious University of Delhi, Banaras Hindu University, and IGNOU.
State Universities are established and overseen by the governments of the individual states. There were 30 state universities as of 2017. State universities are generally eligible for UGC grants, but not all of them receive such grants, instead deriving funding from state governments, tuition fees, and other sources. Like central universities, state universities are bound by UGC standards regarding matters like curricula, program structures, and admission requirements, even though the regulatory reach of the UGC may sometimes be blunted in federal court. Most are larger, multidisciplinary institutions, but there are also a large number of specialized agricultural universities among the state universities. Prominent state universities include the University of Mumbai, Bangalore University, and Guru Nanak Dev University.
Private Universities are privately owned institutions that have been established by federal or state legislation and are therefore sometimes also referred to as “state private universities.” Private universities can only be set up by non-profit entities (philanthropic societies, religious groups, non -profit organization etc.). For-profit higher education is officially not permitted in India, but many private universities are said to operate like de facto For non-profession Institutions
Private universities face greater restrictions than public institutions. The UGC stipulates that they “cannot affiliate an institution/college. They cannot establish off campus center(s) beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the concerned State. However, they can establish off-campus center(s) within the concerned State after their existence of five years and with the prior approval of the University Grants Commission. So far, UGC has not approved any off campus center(s) of any Private University.”
There were 282 private universities in India as of 2017. They comprise a diverse group that includes small specialized institutions and larger multidisciplinary research universities. Many, but not all, have lower admissions requirements than public universities and charge high tuition fees by Indian standards. An example of a larger private university is Amity University, which has gained government approval in a number of different states and is therefore able to run 11 branch campuses throughout India. It has 150,000 students and offers a range of bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs with annual tuition fees between USD$4,500 and USD$9,000, depending on the program.
Deemed-to-be-Universities are defined as non-university institutions of high quality, public or private, that the federal government has declared to be of equal standing with universities via executive order based on the advice of the UGC. There are presently 124 of these institutions, which have the same academic status as universities and are eligible to receive UGC grants, if only under certain conditions. Deemed universities have the right to award the same types of degrees as state universities, although most of them have a much narrower, more specialized academic focus.
The extent to which the UGC regulates deemed-to-be-universities has varied widely over the years and remains in flux. However, the current UGC criteria for obtaining and maintaining deemed university status are rigorous; and deemed universities include several top-level institutions. The UGC in 2006 allowed these institutions to call themselves universities, but a supreme court ruling in 2017 reversed that decision and barred them from using the word “university” in their name.
Deemed universities are not allowed to affiliate colleges and must seek UGC approval before offering new types of degree programs, although some deemed universities have recently been exempted from these restrictions under a new “graded autonomy” system (see below). Only high-quality deemed universities that have been in existence for more than five years and offer postgraduate programs are allowed to operate outside the confines of their relevant states. The majority of deemed universities are private institutions and mostly deliver undergraduate programs. Total enrollments in these institutions are much smaller than enrollments in state and private universities.
Institutions of National Importance (INIs) are defined as institutions that serve “as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state.” INIs are specialized, highly selective elite institutions that are usually set up, or declared, by federal legislation and receive special central government funding. There are 91 of these institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the National Institutes of Technology, the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology. In 2017, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), a group of top-quality public institutions specialized in postgraduate management education, were also declared INIs, which means that these institutions are now authorized to award academic degrees. As a group, INIs predominantly focus on technical education and enjoy much broader autonomy than other university-level institutions.
In addition to these university-level institutions that have degree-granting authority, there are many so-called stand-alone institutions (SAIs), which can be private or state-controlled. There are more than 11,000recognized SAIs that range from polytechnics, teacher training institutes, and nursing schools, to business schools awarding postgraduate diplomas in management (PGDMs).
Most of these institutions fall under the purview of the AICTE and other regulatory bodies like nursing boards. Unless they have been conferred degree-awarding authority by the UGC, SAIs can only award diploma and postgraduate diploma type credentials. The IIMs, for example, were not authorized to award degrees until they were declared INIs, even though their PGDMs were factually considered equivalent to university-issued MBAs by the Association of Indian Universities, as long as their programs were at least two years in length. Other SAIs try to get around these restrictions by issuing credentials like a “bachelor’s program in engineering” as opposed to a “Bachelor of Engineering.” However, these credentials are not recognized as official degrees in India. The majority, 76 percent, of SAIs are privately owned.
Constituent, Affiliated and Autonomous Colleges
A prominent feature of India’s education system, and one also found in other South Asian countries, is the fact that there are few universities but a very large number of smaller teaching institutions, called colleges, operating under the umbrella of these universities. Most colleges are private and teach undergraduate curricula; they are usually relatively small: 64 percent of them enroll less than 500 students. There are three different types of colleges, delineated by their degree of autonomy:
Constituent Colleges are integrated into their respective universities and fully administered by them. Most of them are located directly on the university campus or close to it. Constituent colleges are more likely to teach graduate programs than affiliated colleges.
Affiliated Colleges make up the largest number of colleges in India: There were more than 40000 colleges affiliated to 278 public universities in 2016/17. The number of colleges affiliated to individual universities varies, but most affiliating universities have less than 200 colleges. That said, 16 universities had 500 colleges or more. In some instances, the growth of universities has rendered the college system so unmanageable that colleges were split up and redistributed among different universities—Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj Kanpur University in Uttar Pradesh, for instance, had 1,276 colleges with about 1.5 million students in 2017.
Colleges must meet certain criteria to be eligible to affiliate with a university, but the criteria vary by jurisdiction and institution; however, the UGC has set forward an overall regulatory framework. Colleges generally need to be located within the confines of the state or even within specific districts in the state. They also need to pass inspections and infrastructure requirements. Affiliation is typically granted on a temporary basis and converted into permanent affiliation after five years or more.
While colleges are given the freedom to run their day-to-day administrative affairs, the affiliating university usually sets directives for the admission of students, tuition fees, and the recruitment of faculty. Colleges are required to teach curricula prescribed by the university, which conducts external examinations and awards the final degree. Colleges have to pay affiliation fees to the university and are not allowed to offer programs other than those taught as part of their university affiliation.
Autonomous Colleges, on the other hand, are a small group of affiliated colleges that have been granted freedom over curricular design, assessment methods, admissions criteria, and tuition fees. While the final degree is still awarded by the university, autonomous colleges are authorized to issue their own academic transcripts (mark sheets) and provisional degree certificates and have their name indicated on the final degree certificate (in addition to the name of the affiliating university). Autonomous status can only be conferred federally by the UGC and is reserved for high-quality institutions that meet clearly defined UGC requirements. There were 621 autonomous colleges in India as of 2017.