This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/10/2018


India has one of the largest systems of higher education in the world, next only to China and the United States. Per the University Grants Commission (UGC) statistics of 2017, there are 795 universities in the country, including 360 state universities, 123 deemed universities (a status of autonomy granted to high performing institutes and universities by the Department of Higher Education), 47 central universities (established by the Department of Higher Education), 262 private universities; and 91 institutes of national importance, such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), National Institute of Technology (NIT), Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) etc. In addition, there are private and accredited universities, institutions created by an act of Parliament, independent institutes and over 42,388 colleges. Together they offer a wide range of degree and diploma programs.


Higher education in India is regulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) except for technical institutes which are governed by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and other councils established under applicable statutes for the regulation of education in specific fields. Some of the councils and the specific fields that they govern include the Council of Architecture, Pharmacy Council of India, Indian Nursing Council, Medical Council of India, and Distance Education Council. Higher education institutions operating in India for at least ten years, and satisfying certain criteria, can be conferred with a special status of ‘deemed universities’ (DUs) enabling them to grant degrees. UGC and AICTE are the nodal bodies regulating the entry and operation of foreign universities and institutions in India.

The UGC is the regulator providing grants, coordination and setting standards in institutions of higher education in India. The higher education sector in India can broadly be divided into two segmentsregulated and un-regulated. Regulated includes central, state and private universities, private/professional colleges, and technical and research institutions. Unregulated includes online education, vocational training, finishing schools, professional development and training and coaching classes.

India’s higher education system is the third largest in enrollment behind China and the United States. The gap between demand and supply, participation of many private players, growth of the IT sector, demand for skilled workforce, increasing FDI, disruptive innovation and online education are a few factors contributing to high growth in this sector.

India has emerged as a strong market for investment in the training and education sector, due to its favorable demographics (young population) and being a services-driven economy with growth in sectors such as software development, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and healthcare.

The Indian government announced Six higher education institutions with the status of Institutions of Eminence (IoE).  These included the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, the Indian Institutes of Technology at Mumbai and Delhi.  The list of IoEs also includes the proposed Jio Institute of the Reliance Foundation, Manipal University and BITS Pilani.   As an IoE the management of these institutions enable them to be free from regulations of the AICTE, UGC, or the Higher Education Commission of India that is set to replace the UGC.  These institutions will be permitted to admit 30% foreign students with no restrictions on fees charged from them, hire foreign faculty to the tune of 25% of the total faculty and enter into academic collaborations with the top 500 global universities without UGC approval. They will also have full flexibility in evolving curricula and syllabi.  The public institutions (the three IIT’s) will also get assistance of up to $150 million (₹100 billion) over five years.

Education Market Size

The education sector in India is poised to witness major growth in the years to come as India will have world’s largest tertiary-age population and second largest graduate talent pipeline globally by the end of 2020. The education sector in India is estimated at US$ 91.7 billion in FY18 and is expected to reach US$ 101.1 billion in FY19E.

Higher education system in India has undergone rapid expansion. Currently, India’s higher education system is the largest in the world enrolling over 70 million students while in less than two decades, India has managed to create additional capacity for over 40 million students. By 2025, the segment is expected to reach US$ 35.03 billion.

The country has become the second largest market for e-learning after the US. The sector is expected to reach US$ 1.96 billion by 2021 with around 9.5 million users.

Source: Education Sector in India -

United States - The chosen destination for Indian students

As per the annual Open Doors Report in the 2016–17 academic year, 186,267 students (including graduate, undergraduate and OPT) from India were studying in the United States. India is the second leading place of origin for students coming to the United States. Students from India make up approximately 17.6 percent of the total foreign student population in the United States. Of the 186,267 students from India, 56.3 percent graduate students, 11.8 percent undergraduate students, 1.2 percent select other programs and 30.7 percent are classified as pursuing OPT (Optional Practical Training) in the United States. This year India saw 12.3 percent growth for Indian students in the U.S. The international students’ data in different fields of study shows a considerable increase not only in streams like engineering, computer science and business, but also in the health professions, and life sciences fields.



India is primarily a market for graduate institutions from the United States who are interested in attracting students. Though there is growing increase in interest for undergraduate studies in United States; limited scholarships and the increasing cost of education are major deterrents. However, with the increase of international schools in India, the interest in undergraduate study in the United States is expected to increase further in the years to come. Community colleges would also have its own share of international students added to the undergraduate student pool.

India is currently considering once-in-a-generation educational reforms, which may offer more opportunities for U.S. higher education institutions in India. The Ministry is in the process of finalizing its revised National Education Policy, which was last updated in 1986. The draft text includes a recommendation that top global higher education institutions be allowed to establish foreign campuses in India and award degrees in partnership with Indian Institutions. The United States is advocating for the Indian National Education Policy to allow for increased opportunities for foreign higher education institutions.

There are several possible collaborative opportunities for non-Indian universities with Indian educational institutions. These include:

Twinning Programs

In a twinning arrangement, a student undertakes a study course at his own institute in India for a set period and later spends equivalent time in the overseas institution.

Service Providers

Non-Indian universities may pursue partnership opportunities with Indian educational institutions for providing expertise and services such as faculty for teaching, curricula, affiliations, etc.

Student Exchange Programs

With an intention to enhance cross cultural exposure and provide a global perspective to students, the student exchange programs encourage Indian students to spend short time periods generally ranging from two weeks to a full term/semester at the campus of American universities.

Faculty Exchange Programs

Faculty exchange programs are devised with intent to enable the teaching staff to teach or conduct research for short periods at the campus of the counterpart university/college. This option benefits the faculty by providing exposure to a varied culture as well as an opportunity to exchange ideas and observe a variety of styles in a different setting.

Joint Research Programs

The purpose of these programs is to advance collaborative research between non-Indian universities and Indian Institutes while providing opportunities for young researchers to hone their skills.

Representatives and Recruiters

Setting up entity in India/entering into arrangements with Indian companies/individuals for assistance with student recruitment activities, where the objective is to counsel students from India and encourage them to enroll with the university overseas.

Distance Education Programs

The e-learning or the distance education program offered by many non-Indian universities to Indian students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting such as a classroom, using technologies like the Internet.

Potential fields of study to attract Indian students or partner with an Indian school include:

  • Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Business and Management
  • Computer Science and IT
  • Social Sciences
  • Physical and Life Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Medicine and Healthcare
  • Art and Design Studies
  • Music, Film Making and Dance

Web Resources

United States – India Educational Foundation

Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)

University Grants Commission (UGC)

All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)

India Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

Distance Education Council (DEC)

Association of Indian Universities (AIU)

National Board of Accreditation of AICTE

India Brand Equity Foundation

For more information about opportunities in this sector contact U.S. Commercial Service Industry Specialist: Noella Monteiro at

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