Higher Education

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The collaboration between the United States and India lie at the heart of our strategic interests in Asia. India has the sixth largest economy in the world in nominal terms and nearly one-fifth of the global population, with a long tradition of entrepreneurialism and democratic governance. India is already an important market for US goods and services and has the potential to become a crucial link in the global manufacturing supply chain.

While the fundamentals of this relationship are strong, below are some priorities to strengthen this partnership further in the coming year.

Through these priorities we see tremendous opportunity to deepen the US-India relationship, to the mutual benefit of both countries.


The United States has seen tremendous increase in enrolment of Indian students at US higher education institutions, making India now the second-highest country of origin for foreign students in the U.S.— and has been, consecutively, for ten years. In 2018-19, more than 200,000 Indian students came to the U.S. to pursue undergraduate, graduate, non-degree, and optional practical training (OPT) programs, a 2.9% increase from 2017-18. In 2018-19, international students made up nearly 5.5% of the total U.S. higher education market. India’s share is about 18.4% of the total higher education international student community.

Last year, Prime Minister Modi undertook bold and decisive steps to reform India’s Higher Education system.  The reforms announced in the National Education Policy (NEP), which was approved by the Indian Cabinet on July 29, 2020, provides path breaking reforms that could potentially transform India’s higher education landscape and make it as an important destination for global knowledge economy, while harmonizing the Indian higher education system with international standards.

Currently, India has one of the largest education systems in the world, with more than 37.4 million higher education students in over 1000 universities and more than 50,000 higher education institutes.  As per the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings 2020, India’s tech schools – such as IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and IIT Kharagpur – are in the top 200 global universities, offering competitive courses and degrees in terms of quality, at a much cheaper cost compared to the U.S., the U.K., and other developed countries.

USISPF has been engaged in recent times with stakeholders through dialogues and consultations on multiple facets of the National Education Policy,2020 with the broader aim of enhancing quality, innovation and entrepreneurship in Higher Education Institutions in India. The USISPF Higher Education Initiative will work on:

  • Advocacy of student mobility linked immigration reforms in the United States
  • Mentoring US Higher Education Institutions that are looking to expand their engagements in India
  • Create a platform for dialogues, between higher education stakeholders between the two countries
  • Deepening international collaborations and partnerships between Higher Education Institutions across India and US
  • Facilitate foreign academic collaborations to strengthen curriculum, research and innovation, pedagogy and quality enhancement benchmarks.
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