Universities in India are established with the help of the Central Act (Central Universities), or the State Act (State Universities). There are a total of 255 universities in India, out of which 17 are Central Universities, whereas 182 are State Universities. These universities can be divided up in further categories as follows.

Deemed Universities: These are institutions with a long standing tradition of excellent education and specialization is specific fields, which are deemed by the UGC as universities, hence the name, deemed university. NIT’s are a notable new addition to the list of deemed universities. Such universities enjoy complete autonomy as far as development and innovation of academic curriculum and programs go. Some of the best known deemed universities are, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

Affiliate Universities: These universities are ones that usually have a central campus only for the faculty. The departments or institutes of the university are located all over the place, from different districts to different states to provide distance learning. Additionally affiliate universities generally have constituent colleges, i.e those which are located outside the campus, and/or university colleges, i.e the colleges located inside the campus. Overall in India, there are over 9500 colleges affiliated to universities in some way or the other.

Open Universities: Open universities are a pretty recent development, but their growth has accelerated as the Internet grows more and more popular. Universities for the past 30 years have been offering distance courses or distance learning for those underprivileged people who are unable to attend classes for various reasons, be it financial or of distance. With the growing popularity of distance learning, around 10 universities, exclusively based on open learning, have opened in different states of the country. Another 50 or so universities in the country support distance learning.

Subject Universities: These universities are subject specific. The trend started when an agricultural university was sanctioned in every state. All subjects related to veterinary medicine, forestry, agriculture, home science and animal husbandry were transferred to these newly created Agricultural Universities. There are a total of 28 agricultural universities in India.

Institutions of National Importance: There are 12 institutions of national importance, each designated so by an act of the Government. These include 6 IIT’s and the Indian Statistical Institutes.There are also unitary universities in India, these are the ones that focus heavily on postgraduate and research programs.