Higher education in India

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IIM Calcutta's Auditorium
The Auditorium at Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, in the city of Kolkata (West Bengal).
Institute Main Building of the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT K) in the city of Kharagpur (West Bengal)

India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, next to the United States and China.[1] The main governing body at the tertiary level is the University Grants Commission, which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state.[2] Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by 12 autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission.[3]

Indian higher education system has expanded at a fast pace by adding nearly 20,000 colleges and more than 8 million students in a decade from 2000-01 to 2010-11.[4] As of 2011, India has 42 central universities, 275 state universities, 130 deemed universities, 90 private universities, 5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act, and 33 Institutes of National Importance.[2][5][6][7][8][9] Other institutions include 33,000 colleges as Government Degree Colleges and Private Degree Colleges, including 1800 exclusive women's colleges, functioning under these universities and institutions as reported by the UGC in 2012. The emphasis in the tertiary level of education lies on science and technology.[10] Indian educational institutions by 2004 consisted of a large number of technology institutes.[11] Distance learning and open education is also a feature of the Indian higher education system, and is looked after by the Distance Education Council.[11] Indira Gandhi National Open University is the largest university in the world by number of students, having approximately 3.5 million students across the globe.[12][13][14]

Some institutions of India, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), National Institute of Technology (NITs), International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-H), University of Mumbai and Jawaharlal Nehru University have been globally acclaimed for their standard of education.[11][15][16][17] The IITs enroll about 8000 students annually and the alumni have contributed to both the growth of the private sector and the public sectors of India.[18] However, India still lacks internationally prestigious universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford.[19]

Rashtriya Uchattar Shiksha Abhiyan[edit]

A total of 316 state public universities and 13,024 colleges will be covered under the Rashtriya Uchattar Shiksha Abhiyan, a plan to manage funding for higher education.[20]


The University of Mumbai was ranked 41 among the Top 50 Engineering Schools of the world by America's news broadcasting firm Business Insider in 2012 and was the only university in the list from the five emerging BRICS nations viz Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.[21] It was ranked at 62 in the QS BRICS University rankings for 2013 [16] and was India's 3rd best Multi Disciplinary University in the QS University ranking of Indian Universities after University of Calcutta and Delhi University.[17] Three Indian universities were listed in the Times Higher Education list of the world’s top 200 universities — Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, and Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2005 and 2006.[22] Six Indian Institutes of Technology and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science - Pilani were listed among the top 20 science and technology schools in Asia by Asiaweek.[23] The Indian School of Business situated in Hyderabad was ranked number 12 in global MBA rankings by the Financial Times of London in 2010[24] while the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has been recognized as a global leader in medical research and treatment.[25] The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings published in 2013 ranked IIT Delhi at number 222 with a 49.4% score, IIT Bombay at 233, and IIT Kanpur at 295. No Indian universities appear in the top 200 worldwide.[26]


Our university system is, in many parts, in a state of disrepair...In almost half the districts in the country, higher education enrollments are abysmally low, almost two-third of our universities and 90 per cent of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters... I am concerned that in many states university appointments, including that of vice-chancellors, have been politicised and have become subject to caste and communal considerations, there are complaints of favouritism and corruption.

— Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007[27]

Driven by market opportunities and entrepreneurial zeal, many institutions are taking advantage of the lax regulatory environment to offer 'degrees' not approved by Indian authorities, and many institutions are functioning as pseudo non-profit organisations, developing sophisticated financial methods to siphon off the 'profits'.[28] [29] Regulatory authorities like UGC and AICTE have been trying very hard to extirpate the menace of private universities which are running courses without any affiliation or recognition. Students from rural and semi urban background often fall prey to these institutes and colleges.[30] One the fundamental weaknesses of the system is lack of transparency and recommendations have been made to mandate high standards of data disclosures by institutions on performance.[31]


  1. ^ "India Country Summary of Higher Education". World Bank. 
  2. ^ a b India 2009: A Reference Annual (53rd edition), 237
  3. ^ "''Higher Education'', National Informatics Centre, Government of India". Education.nic.in. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  4. ^ "Latest Statistics on Indian Higher Education". DrEducation.com. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  5. ^ "Central Universities". ugc.ac.in. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "List of State Universities" (PDF). 27 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  7. ^ ":::Deemed University - University Grants Commission :::". ugc.ac.in. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  8. ^ ":::Private Universities - University Grants Commission :::". ugc.ac.in. 1 August 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-06-28. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "The Institutes of National Importance" (PDF). 
  10. ^ Blackwell, 95–96
  11. ^ a b c Blackwell, 96
  12. ^ National Network of Education (2008-10-06). "‘Mobile Study Centres have increased student participation’ - IGNOU VC, Universities News - By". Indiaedunews.net. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  13. ^ "» Ignou :: Education, Careers & Professional News". News.education4india.com. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  14. ^ "Profile of IGNOU - Preamble". Ignou.ac.in. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  15. ^ http://www.businessinsider.com/the-worlds-best-engineering-schools-2012-6?IR=T#41-university-of-mumbai-10
  16. ^ a b http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/brics-rankings/2013#sorting=rank+country=+stars=false+search=
  17. ^ a b http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/brics-rankings/top-universities-india
  18. ^ Vrat, 230-231
  19. ^ India doesn't figure in world top-100 universities, Press Trust of India via timesofindia.com, 2010-09-12
  20. ^ "Govt launches Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan for bouldering Higher Education". Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  21. ^ http://www.businessinsider.com/the-worlds-best-engineering-schools-2012-6?IR=T
  22. ^ "Times Higher Education". Times Higher Education. 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  23. ^ "Asia's Best Science and Technology Schools". Cgi.cnn.com. 2000-06-22. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  24. ^ "MBA global Top 100 rankings - FT". ft.com. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  25. ^ "Medical Meccas: An Oasis for India's Poorest | Newsweek Health for Life | Newsweek.com". Newsweek.com. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  26. ^ "A study in apathy". September 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "PM’s address at the 150th Anniversary Function of University of Mumbai". 
  28. ^ "A crisis of confidence in higher education?". universityworldnews.com. 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  29. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica
  30. ^ Fake and Cheat Universities in India, Think Ahead.
  31. ^ "Transparency for a Change in Higher Education". DrEducation.com. 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-08-02.