Study in India
India has traditionally been seen as a country that sends rather than receives international students, but a growing number of students from elsewhere are now choosing to study in India. Indeed, the 2012 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education found that India had become the 11th most popular country for US students abroad.
With the world’s second largest population (after China), and a fast-growing and ever-more influential economy, it’s unsurprising that India’s higher education system has undergone rapid expansion over the past few decades. India now has one of the largest higher education systems in the world (after China and the US) – and to an outsider, perhaps one of the most complex. There are thousands of colleges and universities in India to choose from, of many different types, sizes, specializations and origins, some state-run, others private.
Keen to study in India? Click on the tabs below for information about top universities in India, popular cities for students, and how to apply for a student visa.
- Second largest national population in the world (after China) at 1.27 billion (2015 estimate)
- Capital: New Delhi
- Largest city by population: Mumbai (also called Bombay)
- National official languages: Standard Hindi and English, but individual states have additional official languages.
- Major religions include: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism.
- Around 3% of GDP invested in higher education (1.2% from public sources, 1.8% private) – higher than the US
- The third largest higher education system in the world (after the US and China)
- Currency: rupee (1 rupee = 100 paise).
- Popular sports include: cricket, field hockey, football (soccer), basketball and tennis.
- India has its own space agency, and is planning its first manned space mission for 2016.
- Climate varies significantly from northern to southern India, but is generally split into three seasons: hot, wet (monsoon) and cool.
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Universities in India
India is especially well-known for the quality of its education in engineering and technology subjects, spearheaded by the prestigious and internationally recognized Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). There are currently 16 of these, around the country, focusing mainly on engineering, technology and science disciplines.
Among India’s comprehensive universities, the highest performing in the QS rankings are the University of Delhi (91st in the QS University Rankings: Asia 2015; 481-490 in the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16), the University of Mumbai (125th in Asia; 701+ in the world), the University of Calcutta (149th in Asia; 601-650 in the world) and Banaras Hindu University (151-160 in Asia; 701+ in the world).
Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore is a public university ranked 34th in the 2015 edition of the QS University Rankings: Asia. It also entered the overall QS World University Rankings for the first time in 2015, at 147th place, making it the top university in India. It also maintains a strong presence QS World University Rankings by Subject, ranking among the world’s top universities in 14 subjects. Of these, it performs best (among the top 100 worldwide) for electrical & electronic engineering and materials sciences.
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD)
Another of India’s leading specialized public institutions is the Institute of Technology Delhi, often shortened to IITD, which ranks 42nd in the Asian rankings and 179th in the world rankings.
Classified by the government as an ‘Institute of National Importance’, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi has a current enrolment of just under 8,000 students, at its 325-acre campus in the south of the city.The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi is internationally ranked for 11 subjects, performing best (in the top 100 worldwide) for chemical engineering, civil & structural engineering, computer science, electrical & electronic engineering and mechanical engineering.
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB)
Another of the top IITs, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) ranks 46th in the Asian rankings and 202nd in the world, according to the latest results. Despite its specialized focus, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay also offers courses in a selection of arts and humanities subjects. Located in the Powai neighborhood in the north-east of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), IIT Bombay is one of India’s oldest universities, established in 1958, and is now home to around 8,000 students. Ranked internationally in a total of 13 subjects, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay does best for art & design, chemical engineering, civil & structural engineering, computer science, electrical & electronic engineering, material sciences, mechanical engineering and statistics.
Other top universities in India include Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), (joint 254th in the world), Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK), (joint 271st) Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (joint 286th) and Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR) (joint 391st).
Student cities in India
India is without question one of the world’s most culturally diverse countries. In terms of religion, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism are all broadly practiced. And in terms of language, it’s difficult to imagine greater diversity – hundreds of dialects are used, and the 2001 census identified no less than 26 different mother tongues with more than a million speakers.
As a student, you're likely to be based in one of India’s major cities – find out more below.
It’s fair to say that Delhi has a reputation for being a little overwhelming. The governmental capital, New Delhi, is just one part of this sprawling metropolis (the largest by area in India, and among the largest worldwide) in the north of the country. However, it’s also widely agreed that exploration more than pays off. Delhi is packed with Indian culture both old and new, from 17th century mosques to the more contemporary but equally impressive Lotus Temple, and magnificent Mughal-era monuments to bustling modern-day marketplaces.
Among the hundreds of colleges and universities in Delhi are the University of Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
India’s most populous city, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is located on the west coast at the site of a large natural harbor. It’s known as the country’s commercial center, and home of the Indian entertainment sector – including the world-famous Bollywood film industry.
Like many of India’s major cities, Mumbai consists largely of contrasts and extremes: glistening skyscrapers and ancient bazaars, stylish nightspots and grungy bars, glamorous restaurants and simple-but-delicious street food – and probably most striking for the majority of visitors, great wealth in close proximity to large slums.
Whatever you’re into – architecture, clubbing, food, art, live music – Mumbai has it all, including a good selection of higher education providers. Colleges and universities in Mumbai include the University of Mumbai, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, SNDT Women’s University, the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies and S P Jain Institute of Management and Research.
Third most populous city Bangalore (also called Bengaluru) is the capital of the state of Karnataka, towards the south of India. It’s probably best known as the hub of India’s booming information technology sector, and its high concentration of tech companies has earned it comparisons to the US’s Silicon Valley.
Culturally it may not be able to compete on the same scale as Delhi or Mumbai, but Bangalore does have its own film industry, a vibrant live music scene (from classical Indian to modern-day rock), and more than enough restaurants, bars and festivals to keep most people busy!
The city also has a strong higher education sector. Universities in Bangalore include Bangalore University, the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, and smaller research-based institutes such as the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore and the National Centre for Biological Sciences.
Student visas for India
If you’re planning to study in India, you’ll need to apply for a student visa. Student visas for India are issued either for the duration of your course of study or for a maximum period of five years. Visas issued for less than five years can be extended with permission from the local FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office) and similarly, the course of study and/or the educational institution may be changed if circumstances are deemed sufficient.
The essential requirements to get a student visa for India are as follows:
- You first need an offer of admission to a recognized Indian educational institute. This may mean you first have to take an entrance exam.
- Student visas only permit students to change either their course or institution with specific permission from the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office).
- As part of the visa application, the details of the course and the place of study must be included. In cases where a letter of admission is not available, a provisional student visa will be issued. However, admission must be confirmed within a period of three months, otherwise the candidate will not be allowed to remain in India.
- Applicants must also submit supporting documentation including a current and valid passport, with a minimum of six months validity and at least two blank pages.
- Applicants who will be enrolling on a medical course of study must obtain a letter of approval, or a no objection certificate from the Ministry of Health in India.
- Applicants for courses in engineering or at technical institutions in India must obtain similar authorization from the Department of Education.
- Student visas cannot be obtained by those already in the country on a tourist visa or any other visa type.
- Student visas issued for a period of 180 days or more will require the applicant to register with the local FRRO within 14 days of arrival.
Fees for student visas for India are as follows:
- US citizens - 1 year (12 months) - Multiple Entry Visa - US$102.70
- UK citizens - 1 year (12 months) - Multiple Entry Visa - US$236.70 (~£150)
- Other nationals - 1 year (12 months) - Multiple Entry Visa - US$82.70
Government rules state that all international students entering India on student visas must undergo a medical examination and obtain a medical fitness certificate. Students will also need to be tested for HIV and admission will not be given if found to be positive. You will also be required to pay US$50, to cover medical fees which include insurance cover for the first year. If you hold an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card, you are able to study, work or conduct research in India without a student visa.