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To attract international students to its abundance of universities, India’s offering an enticing mix of cheap tuition fees, a fast-track visa system and the promise of a top quality education

While India has always been proud of its standing as a nation committed to the pursuit of knowledge, in recent times it has fallen behind other leading countries in attracting the world’s top scholars.

However, the government has launched an ambitious programme to boost the country’s overseas student population from around 45,000 to 200,000 by 2023.

This is made more attainable by the fact that the higher education infrastructure in the country is already vast. So those considering studying here will find they have plenty of options. Unlike most of its Asian competitors, all Masters courses and many Bachelors programmes are taught in English – one of India’s two official languages.

India’s warm and welcoming population will make settling in easy. If you’re adventurous, you could trek the Himalayan Mountains or Rajasthan desert. You could also visit one of the nation’s many cosmopolitan cities, such as Mumbai, New Delhi or Bengaluru, sampling the unique local cuisine or watching a Bollywood movie.

Indian universities

With around 900 universities, India is well-equipped to handle a rise in the number of international students arriving at its shores. The five main types of higher education institution are:

  • Central universities – There are currently 49 institutions controlled by central government.
  • State universities – Most of India’s universities (399) are governed by one of the country’s regions.
  • Deemed-to-be universities – Central government has declared 37 high-performing institutions as having a status equal to universities.
  • Institutes of National Importance (INI) – Funded by central government, there are 91 INIs. These include the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM).
  • Private universities – There are currently 330 privately established and funded institutions.

Read more about the structure of India’s higher education system at the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) – University and Higher Education.

You can also find out about the different university types by exploring the subcategories at the University Grants Commission – Central Universities.

Despite India possessing one of the world’s largest higher education systems, only nine universities – all except for one being an INI – appear in the top 500 of the QS World University Rankings 2019 (with 24 featuring overall):

  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (162nd)
  • Indian Institute of Science (170th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (172nd)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (264th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (283rd)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (295th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (381st)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (472nd)
  • University of Delhi (487th).

As the pattern with these institutions suggests, India is renowned for its excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. However, the country’s also rapidly growing a reputation for providing quality programmes in business management, medicine and the arts.

Unfortunately, bogus institutions are not uncommon in India. To avoid being duped, check the university you’re considering is recognised. For more information, see the University Grants Commission – Fake Universities.

The Indian academic year is split into two semesters (autumn and spring) and typically runs from July to April/May.

Degree courses in India

In terms of structure and assessment, Bachelors programmes in India are similar to their UK counterparts. For example, they usually last for three years, with some programmes – notably those in STEM and law – lasting for four or five. Popular courses include:

  • Bachelor of Architecture
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Engineering
  • Bachelor of Journalism
  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Bachelor of Medicine
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Technology.

Search Indian Bachelors degrees at Study In India – List of Institutes/Universities.

Masters degrees

Taught Masters degrees usually last for one or two years, with research programmes lasting three. Courses in IT, medicine and business are commonplace, with the Master of Business Administration (MBA) particularly popular.

Masters degrees in India are broadly similar in structure to those in the UK, with typical assessment methods including essays, exams and a dissertation.

Search Masters degrees at Study In India – List of Institutes/Universities.


Like in the UK, PhDs usually take three years to complete. However, in India you may be assessed through essays and exams – as well as by thesis.

Entry requirements include a relevant Masters, though you may also be accepted with a first-class undergraduate degree and extensive, relevant professional experience.

Search PhDs at Study In India – List of Institutes/Universities.

Student exchanges

UK undergraduates can learn about India’s culture and history by pursuing a four-week placement through the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

Also, science, technology, engineering and applied arts students at Durham University, Cardiff University, Imperial College London or any institution in Northern Ireland or Scotland can consider a 12-week paid IAESTE summer placement.

You can find more student exchange opportunities at:

Some UK universities may offer exchange programmes with Indian universities. For instance, SOAS University of London runs an India Student Exchange Programme with three law universities. Law students at the university will get to spend a summer in Hyderabad, Cuttack or New Delhi.

To discover whether your university is partnered with an Indian institution, and to get more information on funding and applications, visit your international office.

Course fees

Tuition fees in India are much cheaper than in the UK and many other popular study abroad destinations. Indian universities set their own fees, but they typically fall between £2,500 and £6,000 per year for international students.

As the low cost of living is appealing to foreign students, you can comfortably survive on an annual budget of £3,500. It’s important to be aware that international students cannot work while studying.

Funding to study in India

With the Indian government’s push to bring in more international students, there are plenty of scholarships available.

Firstly, UK nationals should investigate the scholarships offered by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).

You may also be eligible for scholarships issued by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), with the General Scholarship Scheme (GSS) its most popular award.

Read more about the GSS and other available scholarships at Study In India – Fee Waivers and Concessions.

The MHRD covers student funding on its informative Scholarships and Education Loan page, which provides details on both national and external scholarships.

Student visas

All foreign nationals entering India require a visa. The Student Visa (S) can be issued for either the length of your studies or a maximum period of five years, and is obtained from the Indian Embassy or High Commission in your home country.

To secure a visa, you must present an unconditional offer of a place on a full-time course from a recognised Indian university – for a list of approved institutions, see the All Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

All supporting documentation, including proof of a passport with at least six months validity, should be submitted alongside your application form, which can be found at Indian Visa Online. A student visa valid for up to five years will cost £156 to UK passport holders.

Find out more about the visa application process at the High Commission of India in the UK. You can also visit India’s Bureau of Immigration.

How to apply

Online applications are usually made directly to the university, well in advance of the course start date.

However, students looking to embark on an undergraduate degree in engineering and architecture can apply to central universities – including INIs – using the centralised Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) admissions service. If you’re interested in doing a postgraduate course and are planning on studying one of these two subjects or management, you’re also encouraged to apply through the DASA scheme portal.

The application cost is approximately £3,250 (paid in USD), which consists of around £3,000 for the first semester’s tuition fees, plus the university’s non-refundable registration fee. For further semesters the fee is £1,500/£3,000 – with the exact amount depending on the course/institution.

To find out the application procedure for a particular Indian university, search by institution/course at Study In India.

Language requirements

The official languages of India are Hindi and English, but many others are spoken throughout the country. The native tongue is usually dependent on the region – see Maps of India.

However, all university courses are taught in English – if this isn’t your native language, you may be required to sit a proficiency test. Find out more at IELTS.

There are a million alluring reasons to Study in India, as there are a million reasons to study abroad elsewhere. In a resent speech of PM Mr. Narendra Modi stated that PMO’s office has asked the country’s human resource development ministry to accelerate plans for setting up 10 new private universities aimed at offering students new options for research and innovation across disciplines including information and technology, medicine, agriculture and biotechnology. Based on leading US institutions like Stanford and Princeton, the proposed universities will be modern in infrastructure with the potential to further establish India as a world leader in the arena of international education. Moreover India already has a second largest higher educational network in the whole world with 343 Universities, 33 Institutes of National Importance, 17000 Colleges in which 1800 Colleges exclusively for women and 66 distance learning Institutes in which 11 are open universities . Taxila University is the oldest recorded University in Indian history dated in 5th Century BC followed by Nalanda University. Both Universities are one of the oldest universities in world history and had oldest education system in the world in the modern sense of Universities.

With so much of rich educational history and current strong network of education underway in worlds largest democracy you must be wondering whether studying in India can help you achieve your goal. Let us jot down top 10 reasons to “Study in India”.

  1. Quality of Education and variety of courses you will find nowhere else:

If you are considering Engineering, Technology or Pharmacy from modern day science, the quality India’s offering in these areas are particularly imposing — known for their constant pursuit of teaching excellence and boundary-pushing research.

But India’s offering as far from limited to these fields of studies. From Yoga, Ayurveda to Indian classical dance, music and age old languages like Sanskrit developed through its thousands of years old traditions to modern day courses like politics to philosophy and biology to business there is something for everyone in India’s massive higher education system.

2) Worlds Second Largest Education System:

With a pool of 343 Universities and 17000 colleges / institutes many of it dedicated to research in various fields, India is second largest education system on this planet. Comprising bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, the vastness of the Indian higher education system and its global network of students and faculty directly translates to increased diversity and enhanced opportunities for both academic and personal enrichment.

3) Funds for Study:

Compared to many of the world’s finest institutions, India’s low cost of education is a bargain. But it’s not just less expensive tuition fees which make studying in English a smart financial choice. The cost of living in India is also budget-friendly. How much so? According to survey, rents in the US and UK are 509 percent and 456 percent higher, respectively, than in India. Here are some approximate prices of how much things will cost (USD, March 2015)

  • Apartment Rent, 1Bedroom: 100 to 120 $ per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: 1 to 1.5 $
  • Meal at McDonalds: 2 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 Ltrs): 1.5 $
  • Cappuccino: 1 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): 0.45 $
  • Water (1 litre bottle): 0.3 $
  • Loaf of Bread: 0.3 $
  • Cigarettes: 1.2 $
  • Cinema Ticket: 3 $

4) Interaction with Campus / Campus Life:

On the latter note about India’s population of young people, studying at an Indian University and making friends with peers from halfway across the world will be an incredibly rewarding experience. Higher educational system in India has English as the medium of education, making it possible to fully immerse yourself in campus.

5) Economic future of India:

India’s economy continues to surge and currently ranked as fastest growing economy in the world by IMF and World Bank. Not only do experts predict that it will be the world’s third largest economy by 2030, but is also expected to grow at the fastest rate in the decade ahead.Choosing India as your study abroad destination not only means terrific opportunities in the here and now, but also an invaluable perspective on and understanding of the forces likely to fuel progress as we move into the future.

6) Developing Country:

Since India is a developing country it has a mix of urban rich population which matches the standards of Western Culture and on the side poor labour class people living in poverty. Due to this mix of people with hundreds of religions in combination, in a population of around 1.25 billon people in India, it would be a very grounding experience to say the least for the students from Industrialised world and a feel home experience for students from other developing countries.

7) Education beyond the Walls of a Classroom:

Beyond your daily life at campus you will experience the unique culture in India, which is deeply associated with its past or history you can say. Most students or travellers do not know much about the history of India or have knowledge of surface level. While studying in India you can understand the roots of rich Indian culture through Epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, its centuries warfare with kings and sultans, its age old tradition of travelling prevailing under the name of “Yatra”, its modern style of war called “Satyagraha” used for independence from British Rule and many more. Until you experience all this you cannot formulate what the life is in India and even then its diversity confuses you to define it.

8) Cultural, Linguistic and Geographical Diversity:

If your goal is to see the whole world. India is best destination to start with. India offers you diversity in each and every thing as you travel within the country. You will find language changes, culture changes, food changes and even nature changes on every 200 kms travel and feels you as if you are in whole new world. It has right from snow to desert and also sandy beaches to offer you -from the mountains of the Himalayas to remarkable scenic — and often undiscovered — beaches like Goa, Lakshadweep and Andamans and unforgettable sand dunes of Rajasthan all you can find in one place. When it comes to hospitality, meanwhile, Indians can’t be beat. Where else can you find a popular saying insisting “Athithi Devo Bhava” or “the guest is God.”

9) Affordable Travel Opportunity:

Since India is such a inexpensive place to live and study abroad. You will have a chance to travel frequently and enjoy affordable travel throughout the country. You can explore the nature and its rich history through various modes of transport available. India has one of the worlds biggest rail network which offers most affordable travel opportunity in where it may cost you just 10–15 US$ to travel from Mumbai to Delhi (approx 1200 Kms distance). Besides India also has well connected motorway network and airplane connectivity with most of the cities and towns. From the magnificent Himalayas to the holy Ganges River in Varanasi to the Taj Mahal in Agra, you will have your hands full trying to reach as much of this incredibly diverse country as time allows.

10) Life Changing Experience :

Studying Abroad anywhere else has a commemorative experience in your education and your life, but making India as a part of that experience can be most delightful. Studying in India will inspire you to learn more, travel more and will be most magical experience of your life which will make you the best of yourself.The connections you make, the experiences you have, the realisations you have will all blend into a piece of yourself that will remain powerfully active as life moves on.