Exclusive: Top ten states in India attracting foreign students for higher education

By Rudra Narayan Sahoo, New Delhi: With more than 34 mn students in nearly 50,000 colleges & institutions, and nearly 800 universities, India is one of the world’s largest higher education systems. Considering its demographic dividend and existing infrastructure in educational institutes, India is emerging as a force in higher education system globally.

Although India’s performance in attracting foreign students is not upto mark as compared to Asian peers such as China, Japan, Malaysia, etc. and European countries, its key strength points cannot ignored.  QS Quacquarelli Symonds, global higher education analysts, has ranked India at 24th place on higher education system for 2016. The QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings guide students, policy makers and educational institutes to rate a nation on higher education system.


In 2014-15, India saw nearly 7% rise in foreign student inflows with 42,293 international students heading towards India. In 2013-14, a total number of 39,517 foreign students were enrolled in various educational institutes I India. Among states, Karnataka has emerged as the hub of international students as it alone represents nearly one-third of total foreign students enrolled in India. A total number of 13,956 foreign students were enrolled in Karnataka in 2014-15, as per the All India Survey on Higher Education 2014-15 (AISHE) final report of Ministry of HRD.

Tamil Nadu stood second in attracting highest number of foreign students with 5,698 students in the academic year 2014-15. Maharashtra enrolled 5,135 international students, placed at third position while Uttar Pradesh was at fourth place with 3,263 foreign students. Telangana has emerged at the fifth position in attracting highest number of international students (3,065) in academic year 2014-15.

In Karnataka, Bangalore, Manipal and Mysore cities have seen a jump in the number of international students.  The top universities in Karnataka attracting foreign students are as followed: Manipal University, Bangalore University, Visvesvaraya Technological University, Mysore University, etc.

The other top ten states which are hub of foreign students in India are as followed: Delhi (1,995); Punjab (1,518); Andhra Pradesh (1,207); Haryana (972); and West Bengal (835).

Surprisingly, the southern five states, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala represent six students out of 10 foreign students enrolled in India.

Students from Nepal lead the international student community in India as 8,694 students were from Nepal in 2014-15. Afghanistan secured second position in sending students to India with 3,717 students. Bhutan featured at third place with 2,697 students. Two African countries Sudan and Nigeria emerged at the fourth and fifth places with 2,104 and 1,952 students, respectively.

Top Ten states having presence of foreign students in higher education

Karnataka (13,956)

Tamil Nadu (5,698)

Maharashtra (5,135)

Uttar Pradesh (3,263)

Telangana (3,065)

Delhi (1,995)

Punjab (1,518)

Andhra Pradesh (1,207)

Haryana (972)

West Bengal (835)


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