Central, State, Deemed, Private and Autonomous universities in India

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Higher education in India

Education after 12th (or equivalent) is commonly known as higher education in India. The selection of courses and institute is of great importance at this stage, as it influences student’s career significantly. There are various types of approved universities and institutes in India for higher education. Thus, it is very important for parents and students to have a good idea about each of them.

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Universities or institute for higher education in India are governed in accordance with the University Grant Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.

University Grants Commission Act – An Act to make provision for the co-ordination and determination of standards in Universities and for that purpose, to establish a University Grants Commission.

What is UGC (University Grant Commission)?

The University Grants Commission is an autonomous organization established by the Act of Parliament in 1956 to coordinate, determine and maintain the standards of university education. In addition to providing grants to eligible universities and colleges, the Commission also gives suggestions to the Central and State Governments on necessary measures for the development of higher education. As per UGC, there are 979 approved universities in India as on 31.03.2021

Types of universities

Central universities or union universities – These are established by an Act of Parliament and are under the purview of the Department of Higher Education in the Ministry of Education.  

Read more about central universities

State universities – A university which is established or incorporated by a Provincial Act or a State Act is called a State University.

Read more about state university

Deemed university or Deemed-to-be-University – It is a status of autonomy granted by the Department of Higher Education on the advice of the UGC, under Section 3 of UGC Act, 1956.

The objectives for which an institution is declared by the government as an Institution Deemed to be University shall be:

  • To provide for higher education leading to excellence and innovations in such branches of knowledge as may be deemed fit, primarily at undergraduate, at post-graduate and research degree levels, fully conforming to the concept of University as defined herein.
  • To engage in areas of specialization with proven ability to make distinctive contributions to the objectives of the higher education system in diverse disciplines.
  • To provide for high quality teaching and research recognized nationally and globally.

Read more about deemed universities

Private universities – These 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. It should be noted that they cannot affiliate an institution/college.

Read more about private universities

Apart from the above universities (controlled by UGC), some of the institutions are granted the permission to autonomously award degrees.

Aautonomous organisations or Autonomous institutes – These institutes do not affiliate colleges and are not officially called “universities” but award degrees autonomously. They fall under the administrative control of the Department of Higher Education.

Deemed-to-be universities enjoy full autonomy or independence in administration and operations, while Autonomous institutes are affiliated to the government. Autonomous institutes although, enjoy freedom in deciding syllabus, pedagogy, etc.

Institutions of National Importance – Premier institutes for higher education such as IITs, AIIMSs, IIMs, NITs ,IIITs, IISERs, NIPERs NIDs, SPAs, some of the central universities, medical research institutes and other specialized institutes are conferred the status of ‘Institution of national importance (INI)’ by an act of Parliament of India. The purpose of these institutes is to “serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state”. Institutes of National Importance receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India. INIs are autonomous institutes.

List of institutes of national importance

Consolidated list of all university

For more information about UGC and universities, visit UGC site

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