Higher Education in India 2024 – Types of Universities & Admission Process

India has a vast higher education system. Higher education in India is imparted by various state, private & central universities.

India has a very vast higher education system, which is 3rd largest in the world after the USA and China. Over the last 3 decades, Indian higher education has witnessed significant growth. Higher education in India comprises Colleges, Universities, and Institutes offering Diploma, Undergraduate, Postgraduate, and Doctoral degree programs in various disciplines.

In India, the administration and financing of universities and colleges are primarily managed by the University Grants Commission (UGC). This governing body holds the responsibility of regulating the higher education system in India. Apart from UGC, other regulatory bodies such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Medical Council of India (MCI) oversee the functioning of technical and medical education respectively.


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The higher education in India starts after class 12 or intermediate education. Candidates have the option to pursue diploma, or bachelor’s programs in a variety of subjects/disciplines including Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, Law, Management, etc.

Higher education is quite diverse in India and caters to the needs of students coming from different backgrounds & disciplines. The higher education is imparted to students through universities & colleges that specializes in Medicine, Engineering, Law, Sciences, Management, and Humanities.

Universities & Colleges in India

The Universities & colleges in India offer a broad range of academic programs and courses, providing students with the opportunity to pursue their interests and career aspirations.

The universities & colleges in India fall under two broad categories:

  1. Government funded Universities and colleges
  2. Private Universities & colleges

As of 2020, the country has over 1000 universities, among them 55 are central universities, 416 state universities, 125 deemed universities, 361 private universities, and 159 Institutes of National Importance which include AIIMS, IIMs, IITs, IISERs, IITs, and NITs among others.

As per the data from MHRD the other academic institutions include 52,627 colleges as government degree colleges, private colleges, standalone institutes, and post-graduate research institutions, functioning under these universities.

The quality of education, infrastructure, and faculty can vary greatly between institutions, making it important for students to research and choose wisely when selecting a university or college in India.

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Types of Universities in India

In India, there are several types of universities, which offer academic programs in various fields. Here are some of the main types of Universities in India:

Central Universities

The central universities in India are set up through an act in Parliament. The central government is responsible for the operations and funding of these universities. In India, there are 55 central universities, some examples are Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, Assam University, etc.

State Universities

The State universities are established through an act passed in the State Legislature and are mainly funded and operated by the respective State Government. Some examples are Uttarakhand Technical University, Delhi Technological University, Allahabad State University, etc.

Private Universities

These are set up through an Act in the State Legislatures. Private universities are funded by private organizations or individuals. Examples of private universities include Amity University, UPES University, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education etc.

Deemed Universities

These are autonomous institutions that are granted the status of a university by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India. Examples include the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Graphic Era University, etc.

Institutes of National Importance (INI)

These institutions are funded by the Government of India and comprise all the IITs, NITs, and AIIMs institutes. The INIs are tier-1 academic institutions in the country and are renowned for producing highly skilled individuals.

Technical Education Institutions in India

The quality of technical higher education in India has improved significantly over the years.

The technical education system in the country can be broadly classified into three categories –

  1. Central Government funded institutions
  2. State Government funded institutions &
  3. Self-financed institutions

India has a number of technical education institutions that provide high-quality education and training in various technical fields. Some of the most well-known technical education institutions in India are:

Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs): There are 23 IITs in India, which offer undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in various engineering and technology fields.

National Institutes of Technology (NITs): There are 31 NITs in India, which offer undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in various engineering and technology fields.

Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs): There are 25 IIITs in India, which offer undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in various fields related to information technology.

Apart from these, there are many state government-funded technical institutions providing technical education in various disciplines.

Admission Process

Admission to the universities & colleges of India is done on the basis of Entrance Exams and merit scores. While most of the Central and state Government funded Universities have entrance exams for admission to their UG, PG & doctoral programmes, some deemed universities offer admission on the basis of merit scores.

Some of the common entrance exams in India are:

Apart from these many state-funded universities conduct their own entrance exam for admission to their UG & PG programmes. Some examples are WBJEE, KEAM, MH CET.

Private Universities or Deemed Institutes also conduct their own admission process involving online application forms, conducting entrance exams, and allocating seats to the students through counselling process. Examples are VITEEEXAT.

Indian Education Regulatory Bodies

The entire ecosystem of higher education in India is primarily overseen by the following authorities-

University Grants Commission (UGC)

The UGC is the primary regulatory body responsible for the coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of university education in India. Its functions include:

  • Allocating funds to the universities and colleges.
  • Formulating guidelines for academic and research programs.
  • Monitoring and maintaining quality standards in higher education.
  • Recognizing and providing grants to universities and colleges.
  • Promoting innovations and research in education.
  • Ensuring the maintenance of academic standards and the quality of education.
  • The UGC plays a crucial role in maintaining and improving the quality of higher education institutions in India.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

AICTE is the statutory body that oversees and regulates technical education in India. Its responsibilities include:

  • Formulating policies and planning for technical education.
  • Accrediting institutions that offer technical education programs.
  • Promoting quality assurance in technical education.
  • Facilitating collaborations and partnerships between institutions.
  • Providing grants and funding for infrastructure development.
  • Ensuring compliance with norms and standards in technical education.

AICTE plays a vital role in maintaining the standards and quality of technical and engineering education across the country.

The quality of higher education in India has improved significantly over the years, but there are still challenges that need to be addressed. One of the main challenges is the limited availability of quality education to students from economically weaker sections and rural areas.

The government of India has taken several initiatives to address this issue, such as implementing a new education policy in 2020, also establishing more universities and colleges in rural areas, and the provision of scholarships and financial assistance to the students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


1. What is the UGC?

Ans- The University Grants Commission (UGC) regulates and funds university education, maintaining standards and quality.

2. What are the university types in India?

Ans- India has Central, State, Private, Deemed, and Institutes of National Importance (INI’s).

3. How is admission done in India’s universities?

Ans- Admission is based on entrance exams or merit scores, with various exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, etc.

4. What are key entrance exams in India?

Ans- JEE Mains (engineering), NEET (Medical), CLAT (law), CAT (management), UGC NET (research), GATE (postgrad engineering).

5. How is technical education classified in India ?

Ans- In Indian technical education is provide by the Central Government-funded, State Government-funded, and self-financed institutions.

6. What are the challenges in the Indian higher education?

Ans- Some of the key challenges are limited access for underprivileged students, quality disparities, high education costs and relevance to the job market. 

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