Studying in India

Studying in India

The higher education system in India is complex. Universities are numerous, autonomous and free to establish their own regulations, eligibility criteria and academic standards, although the University Grants Commission (UGC) coordinates, determines and maintains standards in institutions of higher education. All higher education courses are taught in English.

Institutes of Higher Education are classified as follows:

  • central universities – overseen by the central government;
  • state universities – overseen by individual state governments;
  • deemed-to-be-universities – institutes that are not officially universities but which enjoy academic status and privileges of a university;
  • private universities – these are often sponsored by industry..

You should check that the university you’re considering is recognised by the Indian Government Department of Higher Education.

There are hundreds of universities and university-level institutions in India, some offering a wide range of subjects and others specialising in a particular field, such as agriculture, medicine or technology. In addition, thousands of colleges are affiliated to these institutions and there are numerous large research centres offering postgraduate study, some of which have been identified as Centres of Excellence.

Lists of universities are available on many different websites, including the India Study Center.

India Today publishes the annual India's Best Colleges Survey, which may provide some guidance when choosing where to apply.

Another ranking is provided by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

What courses can you study?

Postgraduate study at masters level is popular in India, particularly for MBAs which are one of the most common choices. They usually last for two years and research degrees for at least three years. Many students elect to take an MBA with a specialist subject area, such as HR. The quality and cost of postgraduate study in India varies considerably. Engineering, scientific study and IT are also popular course choices.

A good overview of the range of courses available and information about admissions processes can be found at Best Indiaedu and Educational Consultants India Limited (EdCIL) – admission procedure. You can also find details of upcoming student recruitment fairs on the University Fairs website.

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

Entry requirements vary between institutions and you need to check with each university or college individually. Admission of foreign students into Indian institutions for graduate and postgraduate courses is covered under the Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) scheme which offers a single processing point for applications.

Additional advice and information, including further details about the admissions process, is available from The Complete University Guide – Study in India and Best Indiaedu.

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) is the agency responsible for assessing foreign academic qualifications in terms of their equivalence to Indian degrees.

Courses generally run from July to June and you should start applying at least ten months in advance and be finalising details by the Nov/Dec prior to your course starting. Most universities will accept either hard copy or online applications but check with the individual institution.

The MBA application process usually includes an application form and an entrance test involving a written test and group discussion/interview.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees may vary depending on the type of course you study so you should check details with individual institutions, but as a guide will cost anywhere up to £6,000 per year. A registration fee of approximately £200 must be paid along with the application form.

The cost of living in India is very low and it is estimated that students can live comfortably and safely on a budget of around £100 per month. Most universities provide hostels for international students, although these may impose certain restrictions on lifestyle. Students can also choose to rent a house privately, either on their own or sharing with others, or live in a serviced apartment which is fully equipped and cleaned regularly.

Scholarships are offered to international students annually though the Indian Government, but most are restricted to nationals of Asian, African and Latin American countries and are not available to citizens of the UK.

Information about scholarship schemes can be found through the National Portal of India.

Are there any exchange programmes?

The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta Exchange Programme operates between the Institute and partner universities around the world (although currently the only participating UK universities are Leeds, Cardiff, LSE and Durham). This is an expanding area so check with other institutions about whether they run exchanges. Your own institution’s International Office should have details of partner institutions in India with whom they have exchange arrangements.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Check with the university or higher education institution where you are hoping to study, to see if their qualification is recognised or has an equivalent in the UK.

Do you need a visa to study in India?

All foreign entrants to India need a valid and relevant visa.

Indian student visas are issued either for the duration of the applicant's course or for a maximum of five years. Study visa applications require an unconditional offer from a recognised Indian educational institute. More information about student visas is available from Educational Consultants India Limited (EdCIL) – student visa information.

Visa application forms are available online from the Indian Visa Application Centre, but you will have to attend a Visa Application Centre to process the application further.

Written by AGCAS editors, June 2016