India: Leading education destination

Filed on April 16, 2019
India: Leading education destination
Indian colleges and universities are known worldwide for offering high-quality education at a fraction of the cost compared to other educational destinations.

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Indian colleges and universities provide quality education at affordable rates

India has been one of the premier education destinations for many years. Now, students from about 100 countries are pursuing various undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes in India.

India is recognised worldwide as one of the important sources of engineers, doctors and scientists. India has been popular as an education and learning destination for centuries now. A number of the Fortune 500 companies recruit regularly from Indian campuses.

Another advantage of India is that most colleges and universities adopt English as the medium of instruction, as it has the second largest English-speaking population in the world. Indian colleges and universities are known worldwide for offering high quality education at a fraction of the cost compared to other educational destinations. The quality of education is assured through national bodies such as the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) for Technical Education and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) for Higher Education.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) is the national body for coordination, maintenance of norms and standards of higher education. It also releases grants for functioning of higher education institutions. Institutions such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Medical Council of India, Bar Council of India, Rehabilitation Council of India, and Central Council of Indian Medicine are some of the professional bodies that are responsible for recognition of courses and institutions for compliance to quality standards.

Education System
With more than 30,000 colleges, 700 universities, 13 institutes of national importance and various other vocational institutes, the higher education system in India is one of the largest in the world. Indian colleges and universities offer a wide variety of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral or pre-doctoral level courses.

Types of Qualifications
Undergraduate courses in arts, commerce and sciences are three-year programmes leading to Bachelor's degrees. However, undergraduate courses in professional subjects such as engineering and medicine are of longer duration usually ranging between four to five years. Postgraduate courses in arts, science, medicine and engineering usually last for two years and lead to a Master's degree. Diploma courses are available at undergraduate and postgraduate level. At the undergraduate level, course duration varies between one and three years. Postgraduate diplomas are normally awarded after one year of study.

A pre-doctoral programme - Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is taken after completion of the Master's degree. This can be either completely research-based or can include course work as well. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is generally awarded two years after the MPhil or three years after the Master's degree, where students are expected to write a substantial thesis based on original research.

Application Process
After secondary education or high school, students move on to colleges in India to pursue higher education. The application process varies from institution to institution. Most institutions in India start their academic year in July/August, while colleges and universities start offering application forms to students three to four months in advance. Many institutions sell physical copies of the application form that students or their relatives will have to go and buy in person. Only a few high-end colleges and universities offer the chance of applying online. Most professional courses have entrance exams, as the competition for seats is intense and the cut-off marks for entry is very high.

Admission Requirements
For admission to undergraduate courses, universities and colleges in India require students to have completed 12 years of schooling (equivalent to the 10 + 2 system of Indian education). Marks are the most important prerequisites for admission. Being extremely competitive, institutions offer management seats or charge a higher fee for their self-financing sections. Reservations are made for the minority groups.

Most institutions conduct CETs or Common Entrance Tests to select candidates. The rules vary from state to state. Professional courses have central level or state level entrance exams that are extremely competitive. Some courses such as architecture require an aptitude test.
Private institutions offer special seats for foreign and Non-Resident Indian (NRI) students but the fees for these programmes are much higher. Some conduct their own tests and seats are allocated based on performance in these tests and the final school board exam results.

The application forms for most professional entrance exams are out four to six months before the final school board exam results are released and most of the entrance tests are held in May/June. Institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), conduct its tests in two phases.
The mind-boggling range of courses and the differing entry routes can be daunting. There are variations in each state and each course, so it is necessary to start research a year or two in advance. International students and non-resident Indians can secure admission in Indian institutions through the DASA Scheme (Direct Admission for Students Abroad).

This scheme, administered by Educational Consultants of India (EdCIL), does not require entrance tests, but entrance is based on grade 12 marks.  

Fees, Finance and ?Scholarships
Indian institutions offer quality education at affordable costs; they are much cheaper than other educational destinations. Estimated cost for a three-year degree is $18,000 for the entire duration of study. Living costs also tend to be lower.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), besides encouraging colleges and universities to provide for liberal financial support to meritorious but needy students, has also been instrumental in introducing educational loan schemes facilitated through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). A number of banks have launched educational loan schemes to support students for full-time studies in India or abroad. Scholarship programme for diaspora children is administered by EdCIL. There are also several scholarships for deserving students based on need and academic merit.

Student Life
Institutions in India have large libraries, labs and sports facilities. Students can take part in various intra-college and inter-college sports competitions and cultural festivals. Students can also participate in social welfare schemes such as the National Service Scheme (NSS) and the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and enjoy the vibrant cultural diversity of India, its festivals and people. There are innumerable places to visit ranging from modern malls to ancient forts, palaces ?and temples.

Most institutions provide hostel accommodation for international students on campus, but students wishing to stay off campus can do so as well.  Colleges and universities have well-stocked libraries and labs that students can use for free.  Most institutions also have its own health centres where students can be treated for minor ailments. Larger institutions also have large grounds and fields so that students can engage in sports.

Indian colleges and universities are known worldwide for offering high-quality education at a fraction of the cost compared to other educational destinations.

Ministry of Human Resource Development's Department of Higher Education:
University Grants Commission:
Direct Admission for Students Abroad:

Private institutions offer special seats for foreign and Non-Resident Indian (NRI) students but the fees for these programmes are much higher.

International students are required to submit the following documents along with an application form to secure a visa:

-A valid passport.
-A letter of acceptance or provisional admission certificate from a university/college/institute.
-A health certificate mentioning that the candidate is free from AIDS.

It is advisable to contact the nearest Indian diplomatic mission to secure the necessary information and guidance.

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