U.S.-India Higher Education and Skills Development Cooperation

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 22, 2015


Education has always been a pillar of the U.S.-India strategic partnership. We recognize that higher education and vocational training are essential to economic development, and we remain committed to strengthening our exchanges of students, scholars, and technical knowledge. In anticipation of our annual bilateral Higher Education Dialogue, we will expand and create several programs to build capacity for curriculum and teacher development. These programs will also enable Indian administrators and officials with responsibilities for higher education and skills development to gain expertise in community college and vocational training administration, and to develop a replicable and scalable model for cooperation with U.S. institutions and industry in vocational skills training.

Exchange of Students and Scholars

More interaction between our students and scholars is key to our shared future. 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.

We welcome the more than 100,000 Indian students studying in the United States, and encourage more American students to study in India. Through EducationUSA, the U.S. government provides accurate, comprehensive information to students about opportunities to study in the United States and assists U.S. institutions with understanding the Indian higher education system. Other areas of cooperation include:

  • Building on its long-standing partnership and support for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is announcing that it intends to partner with Duke University and Research Triangle International to support the Indian Institute of Technology – Gandhinagar. By convening the expertise of U.S. higher education institutions, USAID is advancing the goal of the January 2015 bilateral Joint Declaration of Intent on Providing Support to IITs to intensify collaborations in research and development and its engagement with industry and entrepreneurship.
  • Since its inception in 1950, Fulbright and the Fulbright-Nehru program, implemented through the United States-India Education Foundation (USIEF), has made awards to more than 18,000 Indian and U.S. students and scholars for exchanges in a full range of academic disciplines with support from both governments. Working with the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) program of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, we are announcing our intention to pursue the expansion of the USIEF-administered Fulbright specialist program in 2016, to allow more American professors the opportunity to conduct trainings and workshops in Indian institutes of higher education and advance our shared goal of increased technical exchanges.
  • The U.S. government launched the Passport to India initiative to develop the next generation of American business, science, and political leaders. Administered in partnership with 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. This winter, Passport to India is launching a massive open online course (MOOC) for American students interested in learning about India.

Increasing Skills and Vocational Training

India is home to the world’s largest youth population, with more than 50 percent of its 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 should enable India to realize its full potential and further strengthen India’s leadership in promoting global economic prosperity and democratic stability. Prime Minister Modi’s determination to address India’s educational and vocational demand – educating 400 million students by 2022 – has brought community college collaboration to the fore. Cooperation on community colleges and vocational training programs holds great promise to contribute to these goals.

  • The new six-week Community College Administrator Program, sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, started on September 20th of this year. Through this program, Indian administrators from post-secondary vocational and technical institutions and Indian officials with higher education planning responsibilities intend to complete a program of professional development with Florida State University and Santa Fe College. The program is designed to share the U.S. experience in this sector and help strengthen the participants’ ability to plan and manage existing and new technical, vocational, and workforce development programs in India.
  • We are announcing a study tour for officials from Indian state-level skills development entities to study the U.S. network of community colleges with the objective of developing expertise and contacts to help the state build a more effective vocational education system. We are also announcing support for a pilot program linking Texas community colleges with the Indian National Skills Development Corporation, primarily by providing seed money for travel of both sides to work on this pilot.
  • We are announcing that in collaboration with community college educators in India, Montgomery College in Maryland will convene a team of selected U.S. community college subject matter experts to build capacity in curriculum and syllabus development using best practices in the U.S. community colleges.