This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 4/5/2018

The emphasis on higher education in India has never been more relevant in the past as it is today, and this sector has grown significantly in the last two decades. Per the University Grants Commission (UGC) statistics of 2015, there are 753 universities in the country, including 345 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), 235 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 41,435 colleges. Together they offer a wide range of degree and diploma programs. Source:;

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 segments—regulated 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 world’s third largest in terms of enrolment of students next only to China and the United States. The huge demand/ supply gap, participation of large number of private players, growth of IT sector, demand for skilled workforce, increasing FDI, disruptive innovation and online education are a few factors which has led to this exponential 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.

Leading Sub-Sectors

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. Source:


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 open up 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. Some of these are:
  • 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 can enter into tie-ups 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 also 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 an overseas university
  • 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 parties 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.


Web Resources

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

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India Education Trade Development and Promotion