India - Commercial Guide
Education Services

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-08-25


The emphasis on higher education in India has never been as relevant as it is today, and this sector has grown significantly in the last two decades.  India has one of the largest systems of higher education in the world, next only to China and the United States.  Per the University Grants Commission (UGC) statistics of 2020, there are 935 universities in the country, including 409 state universities, 127 deemed to be universities (a status of autonomy granted to high performing institutes and universities by the Department of Higher Education),  50 central universities (established by the Department of Higher Education), and 349 private universities. India has 95 Institutes of National Importance, a status that is conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India. Institutes of National Importance receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India.   In addition, the Institutes of Eminence (IOE) guidelines were launched to empower higher educational institutions and assist them in becoming world class teaching and research institutions.  Twenty institutions (10 private and 10 public) are now a part of the exclusive group of IOEs.    Together they offer a wide range of degree and diploma programs.

The UGC is the regulator providing grants, coordination, and standards for institutions of higher education in India.  The higher education sector in India can broadly be divided into two segments - regulated and un-regulated.  The regulated segment includes central, state, and private universities, private/professional colleges, and technical and research institutions.  The unregulated segment 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 student enrollment next only to China and the United States.  The huge demand/supply gap, participation of a large number of private players, growth of the IT sector, demand for a skilled workforce, increasing FDI, disruptive innovation, and online education are a few factors which have led to the exponential growth in this sector.

The GOI recently announced its National Education Policy 2020 (NEP), replacing the three-decade old National Education Policy of 1986.  The new NEP is India’s vision statement for transforming the education sector in India.  Though policy drafting and implementation will take time, the NEP statement provides insight into India’s priorities.  For example, India plans a major shift that will allow foreign universities (those with a top 100 worldwide rank) to confer degrees and establish campuses in India.  Also, students will now be allowed the option of completing their bachelor’s degree in four years (currently it is three years) and can use part of the additional year for research work.  This means U.S. schools could see Indian students better prepared for the rigors of their graduate and post-graduate programs.  Prime Minister Modi’s recent statements about developing a curriculum that creates global citizens and giving greater autonomy to high-performing Indian education institutions bodes well for greater collaboration between U.S. and Indian schools.

Leading Sub-Sectors

As per the annual Open Doors Report in the 2018–19 academic year, 202,014 Indian students (graduate, undergraduate and Optional Practical Training) were studying in the United States.  India is the second highest   source of students coming to the United States.  Students from India make up approximately 18.4 percent of the total foreign student population in the United States.  Of the Indian student population in the U.S.  44.7 percent are graduate students, 12.3 percent are undergraduate students, 1.1 percent select other programs and 41.9 percent are classified as pursuing OPT (Optional Practical Training).  In 2019, the number of Indian students in the U.S. grew by 2.9 percent.  


India is a strong market for U.S.  graduate institutions with Indian students accounting for the second highest number of foreign graduate students.  


Though there is growing 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 gradually increasing.  In 2019, India contributed the third highest number of undergraduate international students to the U.S.

Community Colleges

Community colleges, especially those with transfer programs with reputed U.S. universities, have generated interest among Indian students in recent years.   The market is still at a nascent stage and will require more awareness among Indian undergraduate students.

Secondary Education

At present the Indian market for U.S. secondary education is underdeveloped.  Cultural reasons along with bourgeoning numbers of international schools in India are likely factors for the lack of demand.


There are several possible collaborative opportunities for U.S. universities with Indian educational institutions including: 

Twinning Programs

In a twinning arrangement, students begin their studies in India and finish with a partner institution overseas.   The National Education Policy loosening restrictions for foreign higher education institutions in India is still in draft mode.  If passed, this will be a great opportunity as many U.S. schools have shown interest in twinning programs with Indian schools. 

Student Exchange Programs

Student exchange programs enhance cross cultural exposure provide a global perspective to students. Exchange students attend courses at overseas universities for a short time ranging from two weeks to a full term/semester.   Indian schools are receptive to work with U.S. institutions for student exchange programs.

Faculty Exchange Programs

Faculty exchange programs allow faculty to teach or conduct research for short periods at a partner overseas university or college.  Faculty staff are exposed to varied cultures while receiving 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 foreign and Indian universities while providing opportunities for young researchers to hone their skills. There is currently limited collaboration between universities and industry in India.  Indian institutions would like to engage with industry in the development of science parks, incubation centers and technology transfer units.  For this reason, Indian Universities are interest in working internationally on systemic support and institutional models.

Representatives and Recruiters

Several U.S. intuitions have appointed representatives in India to conduct promotional and student recruitment activities.  The U.S. Commercial Service assists U.S. schools in finding the right in-country partner. 

On-line Programs

According to a 2017 report released by KPMG India and Google, the market for online education in India is expected to reach $1.96 billion in 2021, a significant increase from just $247 million in 2016.  The Covid-19 situation will accelerate this trend as Indian schools, like the rest of the world, are now moving to online classes.

Professional Training Services

The Indian Professional Training services market includes executive education providers, skilling, and training companies, as well as Indian schools offering courses to mid-career professionals.  The Professional Training market has witnessed robust growth over recent years due to high economic growth, a dominant service sector that contributes more than 50 percent of the GDP, and the entry of many new foreign companies into the Indian market.  U.S. firms and schools providing professional training services have great potential for establishing strategic alliances with partners in India.

Service Providers

Non-Indian universities can enter into partnerships with Indian educational institutions to provide expertise and services such as teaching staff, curriculum development, setting up affiliations, and school administration.


Virtual Education Fairs India: contact Noella Monteiro


All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)  

Association of Indian Universities (AIU)

Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)

National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)

University Grants Commission (UGC)

Open Doors IIE