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South and Central Asia: U.S.-India Higher Education and Skills Development Cooperation

Higher Education

Indian students account for the second-largest group of foreign students in the United States, with approximately 100,000 students studying in the United States in 2012-13. At the same time, a growing number of Americans are choosing to study abroad in India. These students advance innovation and research in our universities and in their communities when they return home. Partnerships and joint projects between Indian and U.S. higher education institutions produce advances in science, business, health, agriculture, and other sectors while strengthening civil society in both countries. The U.S. government, through EducationUSA advising, provides accurate, comprehensive information to Indian students about studying in the United States, and assists U.S. institutions with understanding the Indian higher education system.

  • Building on our long-standing partnership and support for Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), the United States will support the establishment of a new IIT. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide a range of high-level analytic, diagnostic, and organizational development services to support the Government of India's efforts to stand up a new IIT. Based on the outcomes of these services, USAID and the U.S. Department of State will explore potential areas for future collaboration, which may include planning, faculty development, and exchange programs, as well as potential partnerships with leading U.S. higher education institutions and private sector entities.
  • USAID’s support of the India-Support for Teacher Education Project provides a three-month, customized training for 110 Indian teacher educators at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, enabling the teacher educators to offer high quality training to Indian teachers upon their return, ultimately benefiting thousands of students.
  • The United States and India have each pledged $5 million to the 21st Century Knowledge Initiative to support partnerships between higher education institutions in both countries to strengthen teaching and research in priority fields such as energy, climate change, and public health. Since the program’s launch in 2012 we have funded 24 different projects, ranging from support for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to exploration of the impacts of climate change on indigenous communities.
  • The Fulbright-Nehru program has nearly tripled in size since 2009, with approximately 300 Indian and U.S. students and scholars participating annually. Since 1950, the United States-India Education Foundation (USIEF) with support from both governments has awarded approximately 9,600 Fulbright grants in a full range of academic disciplines. USIEF has also administered 8,600 other awards, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays and the East-West Center grants, for a total of over 18,000 awards in the last 64 years.
  • The U.S. government re-launched the Passport to India initiative this year to develop the next generation of business, science, and political leaders of U.S.-India relations. Administered in partnership with the Ohio State University, Passport to India works with the private sector to increase the number of available internships, service learning, and study abroad opportunities in India. In October, Passport to India will launch a new website – – that will serve as a portal for all student opportunities in India. In spring 2015, Passport to India will launch a massive open online course (MOOC) for American students interested in learning about India.
  • The U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue promotes enhanced opportunities for student and scholar mobility and faculty collaboration between the United States and India, as well as exchanges on technology-enabled learning. In addition to our ongoing collaboration on community colleges, improving workforce training, expansion of research and teaching exchanges, and public-private partnerships in higher education, we agreed that the next dialogue will focus on India’s new platform for online courses and new collaboration opportunities around science, technology, and innovation fields.
  • The Government of India proposed several new initiatives to promote faculty exchange and knowledge sharing. Through its Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) program, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development and Department of Science and Technology will create a channel for U.S. professors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to teach in Indian academic and research institutions on short-term exchanges. In addition, India’s SWAYAM platform for massive open online courses will link all of India’s public higher education institutions. Through the Higher Education Dialogue, we will identify opportunities for U.S. universities to participate in this platform.

Skills Development

India is home to the world’s largest youth population, with more than 50 percent of India’s population under 25 years of age, and over two-thirds under age 35. This demographic dividend presents a tremendous opportunity for India to become a global economic leader, and create new and diverse investment opportunities for the world. Investing in India’s youth will enable India to realize its full potential and further strengthen India’s leadership in promoting global economic prosperity and democratic stability. This landscape presents promising opportunities for knowledge sharing and public-private partnership.

  • USAID is partnering with the McKinsey Social Initiative on a new global public-private partnership initiative, “Generation,” in India, the United States, Spain, Mexico, and Kenya to design and deliver pioneering solutions to train and employ millions of youth. The U.S. and Indian governments are also exploring other avenues of collaboration in skills development, in areas such as standards, qualification frameworks, and certification, as well as knowledge exchanges.
  • India and the United States intend to establish a knowledge partnership to exchange expertise and best practices in support of the Department of Skills Development's efforts to develop nationwide skills standards and institutional structures to support skills development. In addition, the Government of India will explore public-private partnerships with U.S. businesses to set up skills development units in industrial hubs, with the aim to train up to 80,000 workers per year.
  • Through the Higher Education Dialogue and our community college collaboration, U.S. community colleges partner with Indian institutions to enhance economic opportunity in India through adoption of aspects of the community college education model and best practices in skills development. As part of an agreement between the American Association of Community Colleges and the All-India Council for Technical Education, we share best practices in how to link industry needs to curriculum development and ensure a trained workforce for the future. We also support exchanges of administrators and education officials responsible for community colleges and career, technical, and vocational education, including through the Fulbright-Nehru International Education Administers Program this fall.

Private Sector Exchanges in Education and Skills Development

Through the privately-funded Exchange Visitor Program (EVP), close to 300 Indian university students and recent graduates come to the United States each year to work as interns in prestigious U.S. companies, institutions, and organizations. Additionally, approximately 600 Indian professionals come to the United States annually through EVP’s trainee category to further their professional growth and knowledge of U.S. business practices.