With several government scholarships available to help students finance their studies and a low cost-of-living, India is an affordable option for students seeking a high-quality education

India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world, after China and the United States. It is also home to some of the oldest education institutes globally - Nalanda University, founded in the fifth century, is one of the oldest universities in the world and was reopened in 2010.

India's higher education system is regulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) a centralised agency. However, there is a great deal of diversity within the system, with universities and colleges offering different programs, curricula, and teaching methods. This gives students a range of options to choose from, depending on their interests and goals.

If you're considering studying in India, you're sure to feel at home in this diverse and vibrant country thanks to its warm and welcoming people. There's something for everyone in India, from the majestic Himalayan mountains to the bustling cities of Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bengaluru. You can sample the unique local cuisine, watch a Bollywood movie, or trek through the desert.

Before committing to study in India, make sure you check the latest foreign travel advice at GOV.UK.

Indian universities

The Indian higher education system is one of the largest in the world with 49,964 institutions. The five main types of higher education institution are:

  • Central universities - There are currently 54 institutions controlled by central government.
  • State universities - Most of India's universities (459) are governed by one of the country's regions.
  • Deemed-to-be universities - Central government has declared 127 high-performing institutions as having a status equal to universities.
  • Institutes of National Importance (INI) - Funded by central government, there are 167 INIs. These include the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM).
  • Private universities - There are currently 407 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 11 universities appear in the top 500 of the QS World University Rankings 2024, with 45 featuring overall:

  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (149th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (197th)
  • Indian Institute of Science (225th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (271st)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (278th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (285th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (364th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (369th)
  • University of Delhi (407th)
  • Anna University (427th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Indore (454th).

As the pattern with these institutions suggests, India is renowned for its excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, but it is also rapidly gaining a reputation for quality programs in business management, medicine, and the arts.

Bogus universities are not uncommon in India. To avoid being scammed, check if the university you're considering is accredited by the University Grants Commission - Fake Universities.

Degree courses in India

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

Bachelors programs in India are like those in the UK in terms of structure and assessment. For example, they typically last for three years, with some programs, such as those in STEM and law, lasting for four or five years.

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 Bachelors degrees at Study In India - Choose your discipline.

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) becoming a popular degree due to the good employment prospects it offers.

All Masters courses are taught in English, as it is one of the two official languages of India, and is widely used in education.

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 - Choose your discipline.


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.

Only 3.6% of higher education institutes run PhD programmes. 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 - Choose your discipline.

Student exchanges

The UK government runs the Turing Scheme for students looking to secure placements and study abroad at an overseas university. While India is a possible destination, your university must still have a formal agreement with a partner university.

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

Science, technology, engineering and applied arts students can consider a 12-week paid IAESTE summer placement, while you can find more student exchange opportunities at AIESEC - India and ISEP.

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 Shamirpet, Odisha 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.

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 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 (253,955 INR to 609,492 INR) per year for international students.

The low cost of living in India makes it an attractive destination for foreign students. You can comfortably survive on an annual budget of £2,600 (264,113 INR). However, it's important to be aware that international students cannot work while studying.

Funding to study in India

The Indian government is committed to attracting more international students, and there are several scholarships available to help students finance their studies.

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

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

To learn more about the GSS and other available scholarships, visit  Study In India.

The MHRD also provides information on student funding on its Scholarships and Education Loan page.

Student visas

All international students entering India require a student visa (S visa). The S visa can be issued for the duration of your studies or for a maximum period of five years and is obtained from the Indian embassy or high commission in your home country.

To secure an S visa, you must present an unconditional offer of a place on a full-time course at a recognised Indian university. For a list of approved institutions, see the High Commission of India website.

All supporting documentation, including a valid passport with at least six months validity, must be submitted with your application form. You can find the application form at the Indian Visa Online website.

For more information about the student visa application process, please visit the Bureau of Immigration (BoI).

How to apply

Online applications are typically submitted directly to the university, well in advance of the course start date. However, students seeking an undergraduate degree in engineering or architecture can apply to central universities, including the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), through the centralised Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) admissions service. Postgraduate students planning to study one of these two subjects or management are also encouraged to apply through DASA.

Language requirements

The official languages of India are Hindi and English, but many other languages are spoken throughout the country. The native language depends on the region - see Maps of India.

However, all university courses are taught in English. If English is not your native language, you may be required to take an English proficiency test, such as the IELTS.

Comparison to UK qualifications

 Higher education in India follows a similar pattern to the UK, so employers in the UK will typically recognise Indian qualifications. However, it is always best to check with the employer before applying.

To find out whether your specific qualifications are recognised in the UK, visit ENIC-NARIC Asia and the Pacific.

Find out more

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