The foundation for modern education in India was laid by the Britishers. A major change in the functioning of higher education was brought by the European rulers. The British established the formal system of higher education focused on languages, literature, history, and philosophy. These learning centers were focused on generating English-speaking working-class people for the British administrative services, army and trade. The British model of University system, inspired by the University of London, continued to expand across India, leading to a rising number of higher learning centers by 1947.


The British set up network of institutes to impart western education in English medium . First such college to impart western education was founded in 1818 at Serampore near Calcutta. Over the next forty years, many such colleges were established in different parts of the country at Agra, Bombay, Madras, Nagpur, Patna, Calcutta, and Nagapattinam.



The objective of the system of education conceived by the British government for India was to produce a class of intermediaries between the ruler and the rules. Mahatma Gandhi aptly summed this, speaking in 1931, he said –

“I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished.”

An important landmark in the history of Indian education is marked by Sir Charles Wood’s epoch-making Dispatch of 1854, which led to-

  • the creation of a separate department for the administration of education in each province


  • the founding of the universities of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras in 1857



  • the introduction of a system of grants-in-aid.


The newly established universities did not initially undertake any teaching responsibilities but were merely examining bodies. Their expenses were confined to administration and could be met from the fees paid by the candidates for their degrees and certificates. The then existing 27 colleges were affiliated to these three universities.

Later on more universities were established. At the time of independence in 1947, there were 19 universities and several hundred affiliated colleges.

The higher education system in India grew rapidly after independence. By 1980, there were 132 universities and 4738 colleges, enrolling around five per cent of the eligible age group in higher education. The number of institutions in India is four times more than the number of institutions both in the United States and the entire Europe.



Higher education in free India, evolved in two distinct phases:


·       The first phase was -1947 to 1990

·       The second phase – 1991 onwards




Till the 1991, the growth of higher education took place viz-a-viz the growth of general colleges providing education in arts, science, commerce, home sciences, among others.

During this period, majority of the universities and colleges were run by the government, in different capacities. Also, the state with the aim of expanding higher education, sanctioned liberal grants-in-aid to the colleges managed by the private sector.  This is what was the beginning of  private- aided institutions.

The second phase of growth was started in the early 1990s when economic reforms were introduced in 1991. During this period, there was an unprecedented demand for trained manpower. There was a substantial increase in the middle and high income groups’ population, who could afford to pay higher tuition fee and other funds. This has made the non-subsidized higher professional education a viable enterprise. This led to the entry of private sector in higher education.

Further, economic reforms also witnessed a rise in the entrepreneurship. There were also pressure of the international funding agencies to liberalize the entry of private sector in education.

Private entrepreneurs were allowed to enter the higher education, particularly in the professional education courses.

During this period, not only was there an increase in the number of private sector institutions and deemed universities  but also the public funded universities/colleges started self-financing courses, and foreign universities began to take interest in offering programmes either directly or indirectly through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP mode) with the Indian institutions.

Role of Higher Education 

Higher education covers teaching, research and extension. The importance of higher education are mentioned below-

  • It provides the much-needed human resources.


  • Scientific and technological advancement and economic growth of a country are very much dependent on the higher education system.


  • Higher education is the backbone of development of indigenous technology and capabilities


  • Higher education provides opportunities for learning, allowing people to upgrade their knowledge and skills, as per requirements.

The Kothari Commission (1964-1966) listed the following roles of the universities :

  • To seek and cultivate new knowledge, to engage vigorously and fearlessly in the pursuit of truth, and to interpret old knowledge and beliefs in the light of new needs and discoveries


  • To provide the right kind of guidance, leadership in all walks of life, to help youth develop their potential to the full by cultivating physical fitness, developing the powers of the mind and cultivating right interests, attitudes as also moral and intellectual values


  • To strive to promote equality and social justice, and to reduce social and cultural differences through  education


  • To foster in the teachers and students and through them in the society generally, the attitudes and values needed for a positive and progressive society.

India has the third largest higher education system in the world, next only to China and the United States. Before Independence, access to higher education was very limited and elitist, with enrollment of less than a million students in 500 colleges and 20 universities. Since independence, the growth has been very impressive; the number of universities has increased by more than 18-times, the number of colleges by 35 times and enrolment more than 10 times. The system is now more mass based and democratized with close to 40% of enrolments coming from lower social-economic strata, and women comprising of some 35% of the total enrolments.


The New Education Policy (1986) emphasized  the recognition and reward of excellence in performance of institutions.  After eight years of continues and serious deliberations, the UGC established NAAC at Bangalore as a registered autonomous body on 16th September 1994.



The main objectives of NAAC are –

  • Grade institutions of professional education and their programs


  • Stimulate the academic environment and quality of teaching and research in these institutions


  • Help institutions realize their academic objectives



  • Promote necessary changes, innovations and reforms in all aspects of the institutions


  • Encourage innovations, self-evaluation and accountability in professional education


Some Important Landmarks in the development of Higher Education Education after Independence

Several initiatives were taken to improve and promote higher education in the country after independence.


Radhakrishnan Commission, also known as University Education Commission, suggested the integration of secondary education and higher education by setting up of UGC. It also recommended the setting up of rural universities.

It is also known as the Secondary Education Commission. It recommended introducing a three-year secondary and a four-year higher education system. It also advocated setting up of multipurpose schools and vocational training institutes.


It was set up under the chairmanship of Dr Sampurnanand to study the role of educational programmes for youth, in general, and students in schools and colleges, in particular, in order to strengthen the process of emotional integration.


The  report of this commission was titled – ‘Education and National Development’ report. It is a very progressive report. It proposed a three-year degree course and a four-year honours degree course. Establishment of Indian Education Service (IES) to improve the quality of Indian higher education with emphasis on quality teaching faculties to vocationalize secondary education was recommended. It recommended that 6% of the national income should be spent on education.


India has a federal setup and education is the concurrent responsibility of both the centre as well of states. Post-independence, education (including university education) was the responsibility of the states, while the centre was given the function of coordination and determination of standards. However, in 1976, through Entry 25 (42nd Constitutional Amendment) in the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India, the centre was also given the responsibility along with the states for all levels of education.


Kothari Commission was followed by the National Policy on Education (NPE) of 1968 and 1986. These emphasized on improving the quality of higher education level and also proposed imparting higher education by distance learning mode.

Both policies suggested that 6% of our national income should be spent on education.

GNANAM COMMITTEE(1993)                                                   

It recommended flexibility and autonomy for ensuring academic excellence, and suggested  for restricting the unchecked growth of deemed universities. It emphasized the need for a National Commission on higher education and research to regulate the quality of education and to encourage research in university system.


It is also popularly known as National Knowledge Commission (NKC). It recommended restructuring of curricula to meet the demand for multidisciplinary professionals and criteria-based resource allocation to ensure maintenance of standards and strategic preferences to promote excellence in higher education. It supported the entry of foreign universities and also favoured reducing the burden of affiliation of colleges on universities. NKC recommended increasing the number of universities to 1500 by 2015.


A National Advisory Committee was set up by the Government in March 1992 under the chairmanship of Prof. Yash Pal, former Chairman of the UGC to suggest ways and means to reduce academic burden on school students. The Committee popularly known as Yash Pal Committee, submitted its report in July 1993

It suggested scrapping of all higher education, regulatory or monitoring bodies and creation of a super regulator, that is, a seven-member Commission for Higher Education and Research (CHER). State Higher Education Councils would form the second tier of the system.

It also recommended that the deemed university status be abandoned and that all deserving deemed varsities be either converted into full-fledged universities or scrapped. The committee stressed the need for more attention to under graduate programmes and a multidisciplinary approach to learning. Yashpal Committee also strongly recommended reducing the burden of affiliation of colleges on the universities and a GRE-like test be evolved for university education.

The recommendations of Yashpal Committee and the National Knowledge Commission emanated from the realization that fragmentation of various fields of knowledge in higher education led to inadequate growth of interdisciplinary learning.


Set up under Prof MM Sharma, it deliberated upon the development of science and technology education in India. The committee suggested establishment of Indian Institute of Science, Education, and Research (IISER). It also recommended expansion of technical education, assuring quality and providing access and affordability for technical education. The committee also recommended that RS 500 crores be spent on research in basic science every year by the UGC.


It was constituted to recommend strategies to improve technical education in the country. It recommended 2% budget in every institution to be earmarked for research.


Constituted by the UGC, the committee recommended four models of public-Private Partnership (PPP) in higher education.













Central government













MHRD and other
















Departments/ Councils of higher/ Technical education

Accreditation bodies- NAAC, NBA




Regulatory bodies/ Professional councils (e.g. UGC



Higher education institutions





Regulatory framework of higher education in India

The key policy-making agencies for higher education are as follows:

  • Central Government: It lays down the National Policy on Education. It provides grants to the UGC and establishes Central Universities/Institutions of national importance in the country. It is also responsible for declaring an educational institution as ‘Deemed-to-be University’ on the recommendations of the UGC.


  • State Government: Many states have also set up state councils and advisory boards to provide guidelines for proper functioning of higher education institution in the states. State Councils for Higher Education coordinates the roles of government, universities, and apex regulatory agencies in higher education within the state.


  • Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) was set up for coordination and cooperation between the union and the states in the field of education, including policy making.


There are eight Apex Level Bodies (Regulatory Bodies/Research Councils) under the Department of Higher Education, which are responsible for higher education in India. These bodies can be broadly divided into two categories (i) Regulatory Bodies and (ii) Research Councils.

There are three Regulatory Bodies–University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education, and Council of Architecture–to regulate higher education in India.

University Grants Commission

UGC governs universities in India and came into existence on 28 December 1953. It became a statutory organization established by an act of Parliament in 1956.

  • According to Section 12 of UGC Act, the main function of UGC is coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards in universities.
  • It also disburses funds within the university education system. Most importantly, it only acts as a recommendatory body since it does not have any power to establish or derecognize any university.
  • UGC consists of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and 10 other members appointed by the Central Government. Secretary is the Executive Head. It functions from New Delhi as well as its six regional offices located in Bangalore, Bhopal, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Pune.
  • UGC also implements various schemes aimed at improving the quality of higher education like Universities with Potential for Excellence (UPE), Colleges with Potential for Excellence (CPE), Centre with Potential for Excellence and a Particular Area (CPEPA), Special Assistance Research (BSR), etc.

Categorization of Universities

Universities can be set up only through legislation or the deemed route. At present, the main constituents of universities or university-level institutions are listed below.

Universities Number
Central Universities 46
State Universities 344
Deemed Universities 125
Private Universities 232
Total Universities 747

Source: ugc.ac.in as on March 1, 2016.

In addition, there are many university level institutions.


A central university or a union university in India is established by Act of Parliament and is  under the purview of the Department of Higher Education in the Union Human Resource Development Ministry. In general, universities in India are recognized by UGC, which draws its power from the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.

There are 46 central universities under the purview of MHRD. Out of them, 16 new central universities were established in 2009 by an Act of Parliament, namely, Central Universities Act, 2009.

The state/UT wise list of central universities is given below.

Arunachal Pradesh (1)

  1. Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar (2007 – formerly Arunachal University)

Assam (2)

  1. Assam University, Silchar (1994)
  2. Tezpur University, Tezpur (1994)

Bihar (3)

  1. Central University of South Bihar, Patna (established 2014 – territorial jurisdiction south of river Ganges in Bihar)
  2. Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Patna (established 2014 – territorial jurisdiction north of river Ganges in Bihar)
  3. Nalanda University, Rajgir, Nalanda (2010 – established under Central Act)

Chhattisgarh (1)

  1. Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, Bilaspur (2009, Converted from State University, originally set up in 1983)

Gujarat (1)

  1. Central University of Gujrat, Gandhinagar (2009)

Haryana (1)

  1. Central University of Haryana, mahendragarh (2009)

Himachal Pradesh (1)

  1. Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala (2009)

Jammu & Kashmir (1)

  1. Central of University of Kashmir, Srinagar (2009)
  2. Central University of Jammu, Jammu (2011)

Jharkhand (1)

  1. Central University of Jharkhand, Ranchi (2009)

Karnataka (1)

  1. Central University of Karnataka, Gulbarga (2009)

Kerala (1)

  1. Central University of Kerala, Kasargod (2009)

Madhya Pradesh (2)

  1. Dr Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar (2009, converted from State University to Central University, originally set up in 1946)
  2. Indira Gandhi National Tribal university, Amarkantak (2007)

Maharashtra (1)

  1. Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha (1997)

Manipur (2)

  1. Central Agricultural University, Imphal (1993)
  2. Manipur university, Canchipur, Imphal (2005)

Meghalaya (1)

  1. North Eastern Hill university, Shillong and TURA (1973)

Mizoram (1)

  1. Mizoram University, Aizawl (2000)

Nagaland (1)

  1. Nagaland University, Kohima (1994)

Odisha (1)

  1. Central University of Orissa, Koraput (2009)

Punjab (1)

  1. Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (2009)

Rajasthan (1)

  1. Central University of Rajasthan, Ajmer (2009)

Sikkim (1)

  1. Sikkim University, Gangtok (1997 – Dr M. S. Swaminathan, the Father of Green Revolution in India and first winner of World Food Prize, was the VC of Sikkim University)

Tamil Nadu (2)

  1. Central University of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvarur (2009)
  2. Indian Maritime University, Chennai (2008)

Telangana (3)

  1. Hyderabad Central University, Hyderabad (1974)
  2. Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Gachibowli, Hyderabad (1998)
  3. The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad (2007)

Tripura (1)

  1. Tripura University, Agartala (2007)

Uttar Pradesh (5)

  1. Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh (Originally MAO College, was incorporated as a Central University by an Act of Parliament in 1920)
  2. University of Allahabad, Allahabad (set up in 1987, it is one of the oldest universities in India)
  3. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow (1996)
  4. Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (1916, it is one of the oldest and largest central universities)
  5. Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University, Raebareli (2014)

Uttarakhand (1)

  1. Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar (2009, converted from State University to Central University, originally set up in 1973)

West Bengal (1)

  1. Vishwa Bharati, Shantiniketan (1951)

Delhi (5)

  1. University of Delhi, Delhi (1922)
  2. Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi (1985)
  3. Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi (1988)
  4. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (1969)
  5. South Asian University, New Delhi (established under Central Act, sponsored by the eight Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The eight countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka)

Pondicherry (1)

  1. Pondicherry University, Pondicherry (1985)

Six universities namely (i) Central Agricultural University, Imphal, (ii) Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, (iii) Indian Maritime university, Chennai (iv) Nalanda University, Bihar (v) Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University, Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, and (vi) South Asian University, New Delhi are not funded by UGC as these are directly funded Government of India. Goa has no central university, as per the request of the state government.

Indian National Defence University (INDU) is a proposed university of defence of the Government of India, which will be established at Binola in Gurgaon, Haryana.


State universities also known as public universities which are run by state governments. Unlike central universities in India, state universities are established through a legislative assembly act by the respective state assemblies. All state universities that are run by state governments come under the ambit of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The state universities can conducts their own admission procedure, grants degrees to the students, conducts their own exams and can decide their own syllabus.

The state universities are included in the List of 12 (B) of UGC Act, 1956 and are eligible for central assistance.

Although the development of state universities is the primary concern of state governments, development grants, including grants under special schemes, are provided to all eligible state universities. Such grants facilitate the creation, augmentation, and up-gradation of infrastructural facilities that are not normally available from the state government or other sources of funds.

State universities dominate university education in India as they account for almost half the universities and also for 84% of total enrolment.



Private universities are UGC approved institutes. However, such universities do not run on central or state funds. Unlike state and central universities which have a ‘Chancellor’ as the head, a private university is always headed by ‘President’ or ‘Chairperson’.

A university established through the state or central act by a sponsoring body, namely a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 or any other corresponding law for the time being in force, in a state or a public trust or a company registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 is called a private university.

The private universities are competent to award degrees as specified by UGC under Section 22 of the UGC Act with the approval of the statutory councils, wherever required through their main campus.


The first private university was the Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Science, Gangtok . It was set up in 1995.




“Deemed” is a status of autonomy granted to a university by DHE under MHRD, on the advice of UGC. Deemed to be Universities enjoy full autonomy or independence in deciding courses, syllabus, admissions and fees. Some Deemed to be Universities can also grant degrees on their own. Deemed-to-be Universities, which continue to perform well, can get the status of a full-fledged University.

A deemed to be university, commonly known as a deemed university, refers to a high-performing institution, as declared by the central government under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956.

Deemed universities can be approved only by an executive order after UGC recommendation. Although they enjoy all the powers of a university, they do not have the right to affiliate colleges.


Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and Indian Agricultural research Institute, Delhi, were the first two institutes to be granted a deemed status. IISc was granted the status in 1958 though it was set up in the year 1908.

Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) was the first private institution to be declared a deemed university in 1976.



Some prominent deemed to be universities

  • National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi
  • Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  • Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, New Delhi
  • Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati
  • National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai


The main Purpose of the Meta University is to share learning resources by different universities by using latest technologies available in order to enable students to benefit from learning resources available in other institutions.

Copyright © www.www.examrace.com
Meta University concept marks paradigm shift in Higher Education in India. It is based on premise that ‘Whole is Greater than Sum of Parts’. It allows students to move between various universities. 


Meta Universities, free from physical boundary conditions and able to operate in virtual space, taking advantage of the innovation and flexibility possible in such domains. During the 12th Plan, UGC initiated the idea of Meta University.

For the first time in India, University of Delhi and  Jamia Millia Islamia, under the Meta University Concept have started a 2-year joint degree program ‘Master of Mathematics Education’ (equivalent to MSc Mathematics Education) from the academic session 2015.


UGC has established autonomous IUCS within the university system with an objective to provide common, advanced, centralized facilities, and services for universities, in order to offer the best expertise in each field to teachers and researchers across the country.

Nuclear Science Centre at New Delhi (now called Inter University Accelerator Centre) was the first such research centre established in 1994.

At present, there are six IUCS functioning within the university system. These are as follows:

  • Inter-University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), New Delhi
  • Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astro-Physics (IUCAA), Pune
  • UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research (UGC-DAECSR), Indore
  • Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), Ahmedabad
  • Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC), New Delhi.
  • National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore


Association of Indian Universities (AIU) is a forum for administrators and academicians of member universities to exchange views and discuss matters of common concern. The idea originated during Vice Chancellors’ Conference at Shimla in 1924 that was convened by Lord Reading.

It got its present name in 1973. The members include traditional universities, open universities, professional universities, institutes of national importance, and deemed to be universities. In addition, there is a provision of granting associate membership to universities of neighbouring countries.

It brings out a number of useful publications, including the Universities Handbook, research papers, and a weekly journal titled University News.


An institution is established by an act of Parliament,can be declared as an Institution of National Importance, such as IITs and IIMs among others.


  • Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi.
  • Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi.
  • Centre for Studies in Civilizations, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy, and Culture (PHISPC)
  • Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Guwahati.
  • National Council of Rural Institutes (NCRI), Hyderabad.



RASHTRIYA UCHCHATAR SHIKSHA ABHIYAN (RUSA) Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), which was launched in 2013. It aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions. The central category states and 90:10 for special category states) would be norm based and outcome dependent. The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/UTs to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.




The funding to the states would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access, and excellence in higher education.

RUSA is implemented and monitored through an institutional structure comprising the National Mission Authority, Project Approval Board, and the National Project Directorate at the centre, and the State Higher Education Council and State Project Directorate at the state level.

RUSA programme also seeks enhancement of intake capacity of the existing institutions of higher education. It is designed on the lines of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with an aim to increase Gross Enrolment Ration to 25%, which at present is just 17%. It proposes to set up 800 new colleges under central universities (40 central universities covering 20 colleges each), 400 new college cluster universities, and a set of other new universities under various categories.

According to UGC sources, promotion of evening colleges and universities would not only help in enhancing enrolment but would also provide opportunities to working class for improving their academic and professional qualifications. This would help in making optimum use of the existing infrastructure that remains unused for an average of 16–18 hours a day. The shift system of courses in colleges would be effectively supported by separate qualified teachers.







India has six language universities, out of which three are deemed to be universities and three are central universities. The deemed to be universities are for promotion of Sanskrit and the three central universities are, one each, for the promotion of English and foreign language, Hindi, and Urdu.

The following universities are funded by the UGC –

  • Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, New Delhi
  • Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati
  • English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
  • Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha
  • Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad
  • Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi


Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odia are six classical languages in India. Tamil was the first language to be assigned the status of classical language in 2004. Odia was the last one to be assigned the status in February 2014, but it is the first language from the Indo-Aryan linguistic group to be assigned the status.

Sahitya Academy’s Expert Committee gave the following four criteria for a classical language:

·       The high antiquity of early texts/recorded history of over 1500 to 2000 years.

·       A body of ancient literature/texts that is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.

·       The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community.

·       The classical language and literature should be distinct from the modern and there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms of offshoots.

The proposals are made by Ministry of Culture. Once a language is declared classical, it gets financial assistance for setting up a centre of excellence for the study of that language and also opens up an avenue for two major awards for scholars of eminence. Besides, the UGC can be requested to create-in Central Universities-a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages for scholars of eminence in that language.

The fathers of the constitution conferred Sanskrit the special status by Article 351 as it was the primary source language for many languages including Hindi

Five languages in the world, namely Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, and Latin have been assigned the status of Classical languages.



Few Important Offices or Agencies in Higher Education




Central Hindi Directorate, New Delhi, was set up in the year 1960to develop Hindi as a link language throughout India, in pursuance of Article 351 of the Constitution of India. Its regional offices are located in Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Guwahati.

Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology was constituted to evolve and define scientific and technical terms in Hindi and in all Indian languages.

Central Institute of Indian Languages Mysore, set up in 1969 to help in evolving and implementing the language policy of Government of India and to coordinate the development of Indian languages by conducting research in areas of language analysis, language pedagogy, language technology, and language use in the society.

Regional Language Centres (RLC) located at Bhubaneswar, Pune, Mysore, Patiala, Guwahati, Solan, and Luckmow work for the implementation of the three-language formula of the government and for preparation of instructional materials.

National Testing Service (NTS) was approved by the MHRD in 2006-2007 and implemented by the Centre of Testing and Evaluation (CT and E) under Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore.

Linguistic Data Consortium for Indian Languages (LDC-IL),a central sector scheme, was implemented by the Central Institute of Indian Language (CIIL), Mysore from the financial year 2007-2008.

National Translation Mission:On the basis of recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission, MHRD set up the National Translation Mission (NTM) with the main objective of functioning as a clearing house for all translation activities, both theoretical and practical, in as many Indian languages as possible. Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore is the nodal organization for operation of the scheme.

National Book Trust, was established in 1957 with the objective of promoting a culture of reading in the society by publishing good literature at affordable price in all major Indian languages including English and by undertaking book promotion activities such as organization of seminars, workshops, book fairs, and book exhibitions in India and abroad.


To ensure quality in  higher education , accreditation agencies were established . Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), which was launched in 2013. It aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions. The central category states and 90:10 for (special category states) would be norm based and outcome dependent. The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/UTs to the State Higher Education Councils.

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)

NAAC is an autonomous body established in 1994 by the UGC with its headquarters in Bangalore. The NAAC conducts assessment and accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) – colleges, universities or other recognised institutions. NAAC evaluates standards and performance  of the institutions in matters related to the educational processes and outcomes, curriculum coverage, teaching-learning processes, faculty, research, infrastructure, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial well being and student services.

The primary function of NAAC is to assess and accredit institutions of higher learning, universities and colleges or their departments, schools, institutions, programmes etc.

It regularly publishes manuals and promotion materials for assessment and accreditation.

National Board of Accreditation (NBA)

Set up in 1994, NBA is an autonomous body established by AICTE to conduct periodical evaluation of technical courses offered in India. It has the authority to recognize or derecognize institutions or programmes.

Accreditation Board (AB)

AB was set up by Indian Council of Agricultural research in 1996, it has the authority to   accredit agricultural institutions. Accreditation done by AB is generally valid for a period between 5-10 years and is linked to funding.


It is important to note that although accreditation is voluntary in India, some states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have made it mandatory, especially for professional institutions. Despite this, only very few institutions are accredited.






Distance education (DE) is all forms of teaching and learning arrangements in which the learner and the teacher are separated by space and time. In fact, it is a mode of delivering education and instruction to learners who are not physically present in a traditional classroom settings. Transaction of the curriculum is effected by means of specially prepared materials [self-study (learning) materials] which are delivered to the learners through various media –  print, television, radio, satellite, audio/video tapes, CD-ROMs, Internet, etc. In addition, a technological medium replaces the interpersonal communication of conventional classroom-based education that takes place between the teacher and the learners. Communication between the institution, teacher, and learners is mainly through electronic media (telephone, interactive radio counseling, teleconferencing, videoconferencing, chat sessions, email, website, etc.) and also through postal correspondence and limited face-to-face contact sessions held at Study Centers that are set up by the DE institutions.

Open learning, covers a wide range of innovations and reforms in the educational sector that advocates flexibility to the learner with regard to entry and exit, pace and place of study, method of study, choice and combination of courses; assessment, and course completion. The lesser the restrictions,  the higher the degree of openness. The open learning system aims to redress social or educational inequality and to offer opportunities not provided by conventional colleges or universities.


ODL( Open Distance Learning)  is a based on the philosophy of ‘openness’ and uses the ‘distance mode’ of learning.



ODL has vastly increased the Gross Enrollment Ratio and democratized higher education. It has  made higher education  accessible to  larger and wider  segments of the population.

The major objectives of DE system are as follows:

  • To democratize higher education, and make it available  to large segments of the population, in particular those living in remote and rural areas, working people, women, etc.
  • To provide an innovative system of university-level education, which is both flexible and open in terms of methods and pace of learning, combination of courses, eligibility for enrollment, age of entry, conduct of examination, and implementation of the programmes of study;
  • To provide an opportunity for up-gradation of skills and qualifications;
  • To develop education as a lifelong activity to enable persons to update their knowledge or acquire knowledge in newer fields.

India has one of the largest DE systems in the world, second only to China. There following types of institutions offer DE.

  • National Open University
  • State Open Universities
  • Distance Education Institutions (DEIs) at:
  • Institutions of National Importance
  • Central Universities
  • State Universities
  • Deemed to be Universities
  • State Private Universities
  • DEIs at Stand-alone Institutions
  • Professional Associations
  • Government Institutions
  • Private institutions



National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has been approved by the MHRD and launched on 29 September 2015. This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country. The methodology draws from the overall recommendations and broad understanding arrived at by the Core Committee set up by MHRD, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions.

The following five parameters were broadly considered:

  1. Teaching, learning, and resources
  2. Research and professional practices
  3. Graduation outcomes
  4. Outreach and inclusivity
  5. Perception

The ‘India Ranking 2016’ were put together with the participation of 3500 private and public institutions. They were ranked by National Bureau of Accreditation (NBA). All institutions were judged based on self-disclosure of information.

Although the ranking frameworks are similar, the exact methodologies are domain specific. Ranking methods have been worked out for six categories of institutions, i.e., engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture, universities, and colleges.





1.     Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

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, Delhi

7.     Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi

8.     Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram

9.     Birla Institute of Technology and Science-Pilani

10.  Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh





1.     Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

2.     Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai

3.     Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

4.     Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

5.     Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur



1.     Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru

2.     Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

3.     Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

4.     Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow

5.     Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur



1.     Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Science, Manipal

2.     University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chandigarh

3.     Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi

4.     Poona College of Pharmacy, Erandwane, Pune

5.     Institute of Pharmacy, Nirma University, Ahmedabad






An overview of Distance Education in India

The Expert Committee under the chairmanship of Dr D.S. Kothari in 1960s recommended  greater flexibility, economic viability, and innovative methods of imparting education, through correspondence. The committee suggested that correspondence course in India should be administered by the universities only,  the first  initiative was taken by  the University of Delhi as a pilot project.

In 1962, the University of Delhi’s School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education was started. Subsequently, the Education Commission (1964-66), under the chairmanship of Dr. D.S. Kothari, also recognized the importance of correspondence education.

The next decade (seventies) saw the growth and spread of the correspondence education system, by more conventional universities opening Correspondence Course Institutes (subsequently renamed as Directorates of Distance Education/Centres of Distance Education).

Easy access, affordability, and convenience offered by the DE system contributed to its increasing popularity and growth.  Education was still out of reach of the marginalized and the disadvantaged.

The government introduced the OUS system in the 1980s, with the objective of providing  opportunities for higher education to larger and wider  segments..

The Ministry of Human Resource Development, in its National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986, gave prominence to an OU system as a means to ‘augment opportunities for higher education and as an instrument of democratizing education’. Clearly, the vision was that OUs would be different from conventional universities.

Therefore, a new chapter in DE system began with the establishment of Dr B.R. Ambedkar Open University in Hyderabad in 1982, followed by the establishment of Indira Gandhi National Open University at the national level by the Parliament of India in 1985. The idea was accepted by many states, and 1987 saw the emergence of two more Open Universities, namely Nalanda Open University (NOU) in Patna, Bihar, and Vardhman Mahaveer Open University (VMOU) in Kota, Rajasthan. Subsequently, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) in Nashik, Maharashtra, was established in 1989.

The promotion and coordination of Open University and DE was bestowed by the Parliament on the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), instead of the UGC, which the statutory authority for regulating higher education India. Therefore, IGNOU became a unique institution as it was entrusted with a dual role of functioning like an Open University by offering programmes of education and training through distance mode and also acting as the promoter and coordinator of the Open and Distance Education system in the country and determining standards in such systems. The Distance Education Council (DEC) was set up by IGNOU in 1991 as a statutory mechanism under UGNOU Act, which became operational in February 1992. The DEC functioned within the broad framework and the policies laid down by the Board of Management of IGNOU while enjoying a significant degree of autonomy..

As mandated by the  DEC and the NPE 1986, which was revised in 1992, the DEC started collaborating   with the state governments for establishing the SOUs in the respective states. As a result of DEC initiatives, several state governments established open universities. As emphasized in the NPE of 1986 and subsequently in the Programme of Action in 1992, the OUs adopted a radically different approach to reach the disadvantaged by adopting a variety of media and delivery channels for dissemination of information and knowledge.

The DEC took several initiatives for promotion, coordination, and maintenance of standards of open and distance education system in the country. DEC has developed guidelines for regulating the establishment and operation of ODL ( Open Distance Learning) institutions in the country.

In August 2010, the Ministry of Human Resource Development constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Madhava Menon , to advise more  on the regulation of distance education.

The Committee recommended the creation of a new regulatory body for ODL system, that is, the Distance Education Council of India (DECI). The Madhava Menon Committee also decided that as an interim measure, the DEC of IGNOU may shifted to UGC.Subsequently, the MHRD, in an order dated 29 December 2012, transferred the regulatory authority of distance education from IGNOU to UGC, and UGC manages this function through Distance Education Bureau. This is an interim measure till such time an independent body, namely Distance Education Council of India, is created by the Parliament.

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

IGNOU was established in 1985 by an act of Parliament with dual responsibilities of-

(i) making  higher education  more accessible through distance mode

(ii) promoting, coordinating, and  setting standards in open learning and distance education .

Since then, IGNOU has undergone rapid expansion and emerged as an international institution in the field of open and distance learning.

IGNOU practices a flexible and open system of education with regard to methods and places of learning, combination of courses and eligibility for enrolment, age for entry and methods of evaluation, and so on. The university has adopted an integrated strategy for imparting instruction. This consists of providing print materials, audio-video, tapes, broadcast on radio and educational TV channels, teleconferencing, video conferencing and also face-to-face counseling, at its study centers located throughout the country. The university has adopted the method of continuous assessment and term-end examination for evaluation of performance of its students enrolled in various subjects.

About 10% of the Annual Plan Budget is earmarked for  the development  higher education in  north-east region.The university has established eight regional centers in the north-east region. The university has developed a number of programmes for women, and special study centers were established in the backward areas and districts with low female literacy rate.

IGNOU makes use of Information and Communication Technologies( ICT) extensively for imparting education. In addition to self-instructional printed materials, the university utilizes audio-video programme tapes, teleconferencing, Gyan Vani (FM radio), Gyan Darshan (educational TV channels), and computer networks for imparting instructions. IGNOU has large number of programmes, ranging from purely academic to technical, professional, and vocational at various levels leading to awarding of competency certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degree to successful candidates. .

IGNOU has  presence in many countries, it also offering distance education programmes in collaboration with UNESCO and International Institute for Capacity Building in many parts of Africa. IGNOU plays an active role in SAARC consortium for Open and Distance Learning (SACODiL) and Global Mega Universities Network (GMUNET).




This one-stop education portal was launched on 30 October 2006 to facilitate lifelong learning for students, teachers, and employees or for that matter , anyone , free of cost. The content was developed  by the Content Advisory Committee (CAC). National Knowledge Network (NKN) interconnects all universities, libraries, laboratories, hospitals, and agricultural institutions for sharing data and computing resources across the country over a high-speed information network..




State Open Universities

Currently, there are 13 state open universities in India, which are single-mode institutions, providing , education only in the distance mode. These universities cater to people who are unable to pursue regular courses due to various reasons. The list of the 13 SOUs is as follows:

  1. Dr B. R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad
  2. Vardhman Mahaveer Open University, Kota, Rajasthan
  3. Nalanda Open University, Patna, Bihar
  4. Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik, Maharashtra
  5. Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
  6. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  7. Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, Karnataka
  8. Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata
  9. Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Allahabad
  10. Tamil Nadu Open University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  11. Sunderlal Sharma Open University, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
  12. Uttarakhand Open University, Haldwani, Uttarakhand
  13. Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University, Guwahati


The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organization established by the Commonwealth countries in 1988 to encourage the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources, and technologies.


COL was hosted in Canada by the Government of Canada. The major voluntary contributors-currently Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United Kingdom-are each entitled to seats on COLs Board of Governors. The following Indian Organisations are partners of COL for different purposes:


·       Indira Gandhi National Open University

·       National Institute of Open Schooling

·       National Assessment and Accreditation Council




  • General course (arts, science, and commerce) account for majority (around 80%) of student enrolments. Engineering has increasingly strengthened its position as the most highly preferred professional course.
  • Degree-granting courses have seen greater enrolment vis-à-vis diploma and certificate courses; however, the relative enrolment of students in postgraduate programmes has declined as compared to enrolment in undergraduate courses.
  • The share of unaided private higher education institutions in the country has grown significantly in the last few years. The percentage of students in unaided private higher education institutions has also increased considerably.
  • There has been a rapid growth in the number of professional private higher education institutions. This growth is reflected in the dominant share of unaided private higher education institutions in professional courses.
  • Increase in overall enrolment in higher education from 27.5 million in 2010-11 to 33.3 million in 2014-15.
  • Improvement in Gross Enrolment Ratio, which is a ratio of enrolment in higher education to population in the eligible age group (18-23 years), from 19.4% in 2010-11 to 23.6% in 2014-15.
  • Gender Parity Index (GPI), a ratio of proportional representation of female and male, has marginally improved from 0.86 to .93 in the corresponding period.GPI in higher education is calculated for 18-23 years of age group. The ratio of female to male in higher education measures progress towards gender equity and the level of learning opportunities available for women in relation to those available to men. It also serves as signigicant indicator of the empowerment of women in the society. The data provides state-wise gender parity index for all categories, including SC and ST.
  • Eleven universities were exclusively started for women: 3 in Rajasthan, 2 in Tamil Nadu, and 1 each in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Uttarakhand. In addition to 1 Central, 13 State Open Universities and 1 State Private Open Universities.
  • There are 116 dual mode Universities, which offer education through distance mode. Out of 116 dual mode Universities, the most (20 universities) are in Tamil Nadu.
  • The top 8 States in terms of highest number of colleges in India are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Bangalore district tops in terms of number of colleges with 911 colleges followed by Jaipur with 571 colleges.
  • College density, that is, the number of colleges per lakh eligible population (population in the age group 18-23 years) varies from 7 in Bihar to 60 in Puducherry as compared to all India average of 26. Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) in universities and colleges is 25.
  • In Union Territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, and Lakshadweep, there are no universities.
  • Among the major states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have more than 80% private-unaided colleges and Tamil Nadu has 76% private-unaided colleges, whereas Bihar and Assam each has only 9% private-unaided colleges.
  • Looking at the state-wise variation, out of the total reported enrolled students pursuing studies through distance education, in 6 states, around 61% of the total students receive higher education through distance mode. These are Delhi with 14.8% of students, Tamil Nadu with 14.0% of students, Maharashtra with 11.8%, Andhra Pradesh with 9.1% Telangana with 5.5%, and Karnataka with 5.4%.


SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds): SWAYAM is a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) initiative on a national platform with a comprehensive academic structure. The integrated platform will offer courses covering Engineering, Humanities and Sociall Science, etc. . Formation of a Consortium of Premier Educational Institutions & Universities to offer flipped online courses instantaneously after due authentication and award of certification. On this platform, professors of centrally funded institutions like IITs, IIMs, central universities, among other elite institutions, could offer online courses that will be accessible to all Indians free of cost.

The IIM-Bangalore is the first –  to offer MOOC . The MOOC are free.

GAIN Global Initiative for Academic Network: GAIN aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs, internationally, to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education in India so as to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India’s scientific and technological capacity to global excellence. It is proposed to initiate the program under collaboration with various countries.

Skills Assessment Matrix for Vocational Advancement of Youth (SAMVAY): A credit framework-SAMVAY- allows vertical and lateral mobility within vocational education system and between the current education systems. The strength of this framework is the seamless integration of pursuit of academic knowledge and practical vocational skills. Efforts like these will improve the employability of our educated youth.

Campus Connect: The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) Scheme aims to leverage the potential of ICT for teaching and learning processes. The mission has two major components: (a) content generation and (b) provide connectivity.Under the NMEICT Mission, connectivity to 419 Universities/University level Institutions and 25,000+ colleges and polytechnics in the country has been envisaged to be provided.

National E-Library: The National Digital Library of India is envisaged as a national knowledge asset that will provide ubiquitous digital knowledge source. It will support and enhance education, research, and innovation catering to the needs of all types of learner groups over the country. Developing and providing efficient access to quality e-content addressed to various learners with different backgrounds, expectations, and languages.

National Ranking Framework: A committee on National Ranking Framework under the chairmanship of Secretary (HE) was constituted to evolve a ranking framework for universities and institutions. Workshops were organized in coordination with the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THER) and the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking agencies to address various ranking parameters. The MHRD and MHA are collaborating to address employments VISA requirements, which aims at increasing the number of foreign faculty. This will help improve the internationalization parameter in various raking systems.

Mandatory Accreditation: National Assessment and Accreditation Council had submitted a project proposal to MHRD under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). The major features of the National Quality Renaissance Initiative (NQRI) are (i) awareness building, popularization, and  promotion of quality assurance mentoring higher education institutions, (ii) building collegium of assessors, and (iii) quality sustenance and enhancement initiatives.

Bachelor of Vocational Studies: The UGC has introduced the scheme for B.Voc degree with multiple exits at Diploma/Advanced Diploma under National Skill qualification Framework (NSQF).

The Objectives are (i) to enhance the employability of youth, (ii) to maintain their competiveness through provisions of multi-entry multi-exit learning opportunities and vertical mobility, (iii) to fill the gap between educated and employable, and (iv) to reduce the dropout rate at the secondary level. Currently, 2035 schools across 25 States are implementing the scheme.

Education Sector Skill Council: Education Sector Skill Council was constituted in September 2014 to consider job roles other than academic faculties and teacher qualifications.

Kaushal Kendras: One hundred ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyay Centres for knowledge Acquistion and Upgradation of skilled Human Abilities and Livelihood’ (KAUSHAL) will be set up. These Kendras will formulate courses at postgraduate level keeping in mind the need of (i) industry in specialized areas, (ii) instructional design, curriculum design, and contents in the areas of skills development, (iii) pedagogy, assessment for skills development education and training, (iv) trained faculty in the areas of skill development, and (v) entrepreneurship.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan: IIT, IISER, and NIT to adopt villages and develop appropriate rural technologies for sustainable development through peoples’ participation. The Abhiyan will enable processes that connect institutes of higher education with local communities. Focus on water management, organic farming, renewable energy, frugal technology, infrastructure, and livelihood.

Ishan Uday-Scholarship Scheme for Students of North East Region: The UGC has launched a Special Scholarship Scheme for students of North East Region, Ishan Uday, from the academic session 2014-15.

Ishan Vikas-Academic Exposure for North Eastern Students: The programme has been launched with a plan to bring selected college and school students from the North Eastern states into close contact with IITs, NITs, and IISERs during their vacation periods for academic exposure.

Saakshar Bharat-Adult Literacy and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna: Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Adult Education and Skill Development has a special focus on underprivileged groups. Four hundred and then districts are covered under the programme.

PRAGATI-Scholarships for Girl Child for Technical education: PRAGATI aims at providing encouragement and support to girl child to pursue technical education.

Swami Vivekananda Scholarship for Single Girl Child: UGC has introduced the Swami Vivekananda Scholarship for Single Girl Child for research in Social Science .

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