Top universities in India to study at | A guide for international students

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Photo: Wikimedia commons
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Finding the right Indian university for you is easier now that it ever has been. India has often been overlooked for the quality of its universities, but with a rapidly growing tertiary education system and increasing amounts of student feedback and scrutiny, Indian universities are fast attracting students from across the world. However, there are so many universities and colleges in India that it can be a daunting task trying to find the one that suits you best.

Asia Options talks you through the new Indian Governments university rankings and provides you with insider recommendations of our own.


Indian Government Rankings

In April the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development released a list of the top universities and engineering schools in India. Alongside this list, the Ministry also published ranking for the best management and pharmacy schools. These ‘India Rankings 2016’ are from a pool of over 3,500 tertiary institutions and are based on five criteria:

  • Teaching and learning resources
  • Graduation outcome
  • Perception
  • Outreach and inclusivity
  • Research productivity

Below you can see the top ten from the university and engineering school’s rankings:


Top 10 Universities in India

  1. Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
  2. Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
  3. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  4. University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  5. Tezpur University, Tezpur, Assam
  6. University of Delhi, New Delhi
  7. Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  8. Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvanathapuram
  9. Birla Institute of Technology and Science –Pilani
  10. Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh

India is also famous for its diversity of tertiary engineering schools largely made up of Indian Institutes of Technology. The Ministry of Human Resource Development released parallel rankings for these schools.

Top 10 Engineering Institutes in India

  1. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
  2. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
  3. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
  4. Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  5. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
  6. Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
  7. Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad
  8. Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar
  9. Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar-Rupnagar
  10. Indian Institute of Technology, Patna

The lists are a great place to start making inquiries but remember there are many other factors that will determine your university experience.


What should you be looking for when choosing an Indian university?

It is important to use the above ranking as a guide rather than a verdict on which universities you should apply to. When choosing an Indian university there are a number of things that are good to look out for:

  • Does the university have any connections with your home institutions? This can make the process of studying in India dramatically easier as your university will have experience in managing the exchange/study abroad process.
  • Does the university specialise in your field of study? Not all Indian universities comprehensively cover fields of study. For humanities, for example, Jawaharlal Nehru University is famous for its Gender and Postcolonial Studies programs. If you are looking at engineering you may want to look at one of Indians many Institutes of Information Technology.
  • Does the university provide access to quality research staff and support? For the humanities there is a concentration of internationally acclaimed researchers in Delhi and Kolkata, however, Hyderabad and Aligarh is also renowned. Outside of the humanities, it is easier to find quality research facilities and there are hubs in Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad.
  • What is the lifestyle like? All Indian cities have distinct cultural identities which are reflected in the living experiences of their students. Bombay, for example, is an energetic metropolis with a vibrant nightlife and great transport links. However, it can be difficult to navigate during monsoons and for many, it is prohibitively expensive. Delhi, on the other hand, has an enormous student population and you will be able to meet people from all over India and the world. Summers in Delhi though can be particularly trying!


Asia Options Recommendations

The University of Delhi is highly regarded and connected with a number of international universities, including La Trobe University and Lady Sri Ram College at the University of Delhi and the University of Melbourne’s graduate school, which runs a graduate study tour to the University of Delhi. It has a nice location just near the centre of Delhi campus and a number of affiliated colleagues, which do much of the teaching similar to the traditional Oxbridge model (Oxford/Cambridge).

Tata Insitute in Mumbai is a private university that has been a top choice for international research students. Nonie Taxon gives a great overview of her experience living and researching in Mumbai at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Private universities like Tata are well funded and can have good connections with the private sector.

There are an increasing amount of scholarships for Australian students looking to study in Asia, however, regardless of whether you get a scholarship you can be assured that your time studying in India will be productive and inspiring.

As well as the best course, where you live can make a big difference in terms of the experience you have, and the opportunities available to you during and after your course. Before choosing it is a good idea to do some research on the which Indian cities are the best to live and study in so you can find the city that suits you best.


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Felix Pal

Felix is completing his PhD in International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University. Since his first trip in 2008, Felix has travelled extensively through the region. Having studied both Hindi and Urdu, he regularly finds himself back in Delhi for work, research and travel.

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