The Indian Study Abroad Market

In this Market Report on India we will cover socio-economics, educational and mobility trends. India is the world’s second most populous country and the largest democracy, although it is expected to surpass China in the coming 3 years. In terms of student mobility, India’s outbound numbers are less impressive than that of China: 516,238 Indian students study abroad versus 1 million Chinese students. And that is largely a GDP issue. But, the Indian middle class is gaining wealth and prosperity quickly. According to the World Bank, the number of Indians with a middle-income is expected to increase to 475 million people in 2030.

India is a rapidly changing country in which inclusive, high-quality education is of utmost importance for its future prosperity. The country is currently in a youth bulge phase. It has the largest youth population in the world—a veritable army of 600 million young people under the age of 25. This demographic change could be a powerful engine of economic growth and development.

Key forecasts for the Indian Study Abroad market for the coming years

  • In 2024, India will be home to the largest tertiary-aged population, numbering over 119 million
  • China will become home to the second-largest tertiary-aged population, decreasing 30 million from 2012 to equal 79 million in 2024
  • India will have the highest number of tertiary enrollments in 2024, numbering 48 million, followed by China (37 million), the US (22 million), and Indonesia (11 million)
  • The strongest annual average growth in outbound postgraduate mobility will occur in Nigeria (+8.3%), followed by India (+7.5%), Indonesia (+7.2%), Pakistan (+6.4%) and Saudi Arabia (+5.2%)
  • India postgraduate outbound mobility will have a higher annual average growth rate through the next decade than China
  • In 2024, India will send 209,000 postgraduate students abroad. Only China is sending more students.
    (source: British Council)

All this and more in the Market Report on India.

Quick facts

  • Population: 1.38 billion (2020)

  • Education: 9 years compulsory

  • Academic year: September – August

Secondary education

  • Starting age: 11

  • Duration: 7 years

  • Enrollment numbers: 108 million

Higher education

  • Duration: 3 – 5 years (Bachelor) – 2 years (Master), 5 years (PhD)

  • Enrollment numbers: 33 million (2019)

  • Tertiary enrollment rate: 26%

  • Universities / Institutions: 634 universities, 33,000 colleges

Indian Education System

Secondary education

Secondary school in India covers education for children aged 11 to 16 (standard VI through standard X). The last 2 years (standard XI and XII) are sometimes referred to as high school (ages 16 through 18).

High school education (standard XI and XII) has two tracks: the academic stream and the vocational stream. The academic stream is intended to prepare pupils for further study at a university or other higher education institution, while the vocational stream prepares pupils for work or further vocational education.

Admission to Higher Education

Admission to higher education is granted to everyone with one of the certificates from the high school (standard XII), but many faculties set additional requirements for a minimum score (many programs require a minimum of 50%, but 45% is often sufficient) or for subjects in which the examination was taken (for technical programs, for example, science subjects are required.

Higher Education system

Higher education in India mainly consists of university education, leading to the award of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctor’s degree (PhD). Polytechnics provide higher professional education, leading to the award of certificates and diplomas.

University degree programs

An academic bachelor program in India takes 3 years to complete. The most common bachelor’s degrees are the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Commerce.
Professional bachelor programs take 4 years.

Master programs generally take 2 years to complete. There are often admission requirements, either a minimum score or an entrance examination, but these requirements vary both per institution and per subject area. A score of 45% or 50% is often required for admission.

PhD programs in India generally take 5 years. The admission requirement is a master’s degree from a renowned university, but some universities also accept professional bachelor’s degrees, such as those in Engineering, Medicine or Law. Almost all universities hold entrance examinations.
(source: Nuffic)

Visual depicting the Indian Educational System

Latest Indian Higher Education study abroad stats

A total number of 516,238 Indian students are currently studying abroad for a higher education degree (source: Unesco). The most popular study abroad destinations among students from India are:

Indian students studying abroad
UNESCO study abroad data

IB schools in India

Best performing Indian Universities

Looking to partner with Universities from India? These are the best performing universities.

Indian Institute of Science

THE Rank: 301 – 350

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

THE Rank: 351 – 400

JSS Academy of Higher Education  

THE Rank: 351 – 400

Upcoming Education Fairs in India

Scholarships for Indian students

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