The higher education system in India includes both private and public universities. Public universities are supported by the Government of India and the state governments, while private universities are mostly supported by various bodies and societies. Universities in India are recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which draws its power from the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. In addition, 16 Professional Councils are established, controlling different aspects of accreditation and coordination. The types of universities controlled by the UGC include Central universities, State universities, Deemed universities and Private universities.

In addition to the above universities, other institutions are granted the permission to autonomously award degrees, and while not called “university” by name, act as such. They usually fall under the administrative control of the Department of Higher Education. In official documents they are called “autonomous bodies”, “university-level institutions”, or even simply “other central institutions”. Such institutes include:

  • Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are a group of autonomous engineering, science, and management institutes with special funding and administration. The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 lists twenty three IITs.
  • Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) are a group of autonomous information technology oriented institutes with special funding and administration. The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act lists four central and sixteen public-private partnership IIITs.
  • School of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) are a group of architecture and planning schools established by Ministry of HRD, Government of India. All the SPAs are premier centrally funded institution.
  • National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are a group of engineering, science, technology and management schools which were established as “Regional Engineering Colleges” and upgraded in 2003 to national status and central funding. The latest act governing NITs is the National Institutes of Technology Act, 2007 which declared them Institutes of National Importance. It lists twenty NITs. In 2010 the government announced plans for ten more.
  • Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are a group of business schools created by the Government of India. IIMs are registered Societies governed by their respective Board of Governors. The Department of Higher Education lists 19 IIMs.
  • Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) are a group of seven institutes established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, devoted to science education and research in basic sciences. They are broadly set on the lines of the Indian Institute of Science.
  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are a group of autonomous public medical colleges of higher education. These are seven in numbers and are established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the aim of correcting regional imbalances in quality tertiary level healthcare in the country, and attaining self-sufficiency in graduate and postgraduate medical education.
  • National Law Universities (NLU) are universities established for promotion of legal research and legal profession in India. There are around 15 National Law Universities in India which are autonomous in nature.
  • Institutes of National Importance (INIs) are Institutes specific interest. INIs are institutions which are set by an act of parliament. They receive special recognition and funding. The Department of Higher Education’s list includes 74 institutions including all of AIIMS, IITs, NITs, SPA, IISERs, IIITs and some others like NIMHANS, ISI etc. Some other institutes were also officially awarded the status. INIs are marked below with a hash (#).
  • Institute under State Legislature Act (IuSLAs) are autonomous higher education institutes established or incorporated by a State legislature Act. Institutes that are under State Legislature Act enjoy academic status and privileges like state universities.