India’s system of higher education is one of the largest in the world, after China and the United States, and is especially known for its engineering schools. The Parliament declared institutes of technology in India as “institutes of national importance” in 1961, which helped the then newly established universities to grow and develop their reputations.
The national competition for a place at one of India’s best universities is fierce but an increasing (yet still small) number of international students go to study there too. An obvious advantage for international students is that all courses are taught in English.
The country’s rich culture, luscious landscape and unforgettable food are further reasons why you may want to experience India as a student. Many Indian universities are placed in luxurious natural parks. Whether located in rural or urban settings, many of the best institutions host a series of festivals and events that make campus life more exciting. As one of the most diverse countries in the world, you may want to choose your university based on the state, its location and local culture.
Read about some of India’s best universities below.
Founded in 1979, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore is one of the highest regarded Indian institutions, located in the south western Karnataka state. The university only offers one undergraduate programme: a four-year BA in science. The programme’s core modules are in physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology and humanities. In their final year, students do an individual research project. The university is heavily focused on research, with around 70 per cent of its student body undertaking PhD and MA research projects. The institute boasts with more than 75 winners of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology (SSB).
The Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, set up in 1958, has made its reputation by nurturing some of India’s most respected engineers and scientists and employing internationally renowned professors. The university offers both long and short courses. Its premises are located between India’s financial centre, Mumbai, and the resplendent Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where one can see leopards, panthers and other wild cats. The institute hosts Techfest, one of Asia’s largest science and technology festival, established in 1998, as well as Mood Indigo, one of Asia’s biggest cultural university festivals. Notable alumni include Nitin Nohria, the tenth dean of Harvard Business School, the designer of the rupee sign Udaya Kumar, professor Sarita Vikram Adve, winner of Fulkerson and Knuth Prizes Ravindran Kannan, co-founder and chairman of Syntel Bharat Desai and archaeologist Sharada Srinivasan.
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras, established in 1959, is one of the best institutions in the country. One of its marks of quality is the IIT Madras Research Park, which encourages the development of technological start-ups and promotes innovation within established companies. To multiply its success, the Indian government proposed to build 50 such parks as part of their Stand Up India initiative. An annual technology festival, Shaastra, attracts international speakers and further contributes to developing the institute’s technology and start-up culture. IIT Madras also hosts a yearly arts festival called Saarang, attended by around 50,000 students from all over the country. Two of the university’s most famous graduates are Anant Agarwal, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and former Google senior vice-president, Vic Gundotra.
IIT Kharagpur, founded in 1951, is the oldest and one of the most respected Indian Institutes of Technology. Although its focus is on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the university also has programmes in humanities and social sciences. IIT Kharagpur is one of the few universities in the world based on the site of a former prison, the Hilji Detention Camp, used by the British colonial power to lock up independence campaigners.
Panjab University is one of India’s oldest institutions, established in 1882. It is located in the northern city of Chandigarh, an atypical Indian city with squares, gardens, parks, wide roads and modern architecture, planned and designed by Le Corbusier, and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Panjab offers a wider range of subjects than the technology institutes, including arts, science, languages, law, agriculture and education, in addition to engineering, technology, medicine and business management. The university has two architectural treasures - the Fine Arts Museum, exhibiting some of India’s best artists, and the Gandhi Bhawan auditorium, designed by Pierre Jeanerette under the guidance of Le Corbusier. Panjab academics and students are involved in collaborations and exchanges with many universities around the world. The institution’s famous alumni include India’s ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla.