Home to cheap tuition fees and one of the world's fastest-growing economies, this culturally diverse Asian country has plenty to attract international students

Your study options are vast. India has one of the planet's largest education systems, making the nation an increasingly popular option for foreign undergraduates and postgraduates alike. What's more, 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. Alternatively, or additionally, you could visit one of the nation's many cosmopolitan cities - perhaps sampling the unique cuisine or watching a Bollywood movie.

Indian universities

There are five main types of higher education institution in India:

  • Central universities - There are currently 44 institutions controlled by central government.
  • State universities - Most of India's universities, 540 in fact, are governed by one of the country's regions.
  • Deemed universities - Central government has declared 122 high-performing institutions as having a status equal to universities.
  • Institutes of National Importance (INI) - Funded by central government, there are 75 INIs. These include the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM).
  • Private universities - There are currently 90 privately established and funded institutions.

Despite India possessing one of the world's largest higher education systems, only seven universities - all INIs - appear in the QS World University Rankings 2016/17:

  • Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (152nd)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (185th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (219th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (249th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (302nd)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (313th)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (399th).

As the above institutions suggest, India is renowned for its excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, the country's reputation for providing quality programmes in business, consulting and management subjects is rapidly growing.

Unfortunately, bogus institutions are not uncommon in India. To avoid being duped, check that the university you're considering is recognised by the Department of Higher Education.

The Indian academic year typically runs from July to May.

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).

IAESTE, meanwhile, offers STEM students the chance to embark on 12-week paid summer placements. You can find more student exchanges at:

Some UK universities may offer exchange programmes with Indian universities. For information on funding and applications, visit your institution's international office.

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 Bachelors titles include:

  • Bachelor of Architecture
  • Bachelor of Communications
  • Bachelor of Engineering
  • Bachelor of Journalism
  • Bachelor of Science in Agriculture
  • Bachelor of Technology.

Search Bachelors degrees in India at India Education.

Masters degrees

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

Like Bachelors degrees, Masters degrees in India are similar to their UK counterparts. For example, essays, exams and a dissertation are the typical assessment methods.

Search Masters degrees in India at India Education.

PhDs

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

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

Course fees

Tuition fees in India are much cheaper than in the UK - and many other countries for that matter. Indian universities set their own fees, but typically fall between £2,500 and £6,000 per year for international students.

What's more, you can comfortably survive on an annual budget of £3,500. However, be aware that international students cannot work while studying.

Funding to study in India

You may be eligible for scholarships issued by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), while UK nationals should investigate scholarships offered by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).

Find out more about funding at the National Portal of India.

How to apply

Applications are usually made directly to the university online, well in advance of the course's start date.

However, students in engineering, architecture and planning can apply to central universities - including INIs - using the centralised Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) admissions service. Undergraduates must pay an application fee of approximately £3,500 that goes towards the university’s non-refundable registration fee and first semester tuition fees. Postgraduate students pay around £1,900.

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; find out more at 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.

Student visas

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

To secure a visa, you must have an unconditional offer from an Indian university and submit supporting documentation alongside your application, including a passport with at least six months validity. For UK passport holders, a student visa valid for five years will cost £156.

Find out more at High Commission of India in the UK.

Comparison to UK qualifications

Higher education in India follows a similar pattern to the UK, meaning that employers will usually recognise Indian qualifications. However, it's always best to check before applying.

To find out whether your qualifications are recognised in India, visit the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) or ENIC-NARIC.

Find out more