From a university housed in a former prison to a college founded to help the construction of a canal, these are India’s best universities.

Eight Indian institutions make it into the world’s top 600 of the latest Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking, which assesses nearly 1,000 institutions across the globe.

The index points out that, along with China, India has bucked the trend of poor performance among BRICS and developing nations.

 India's best universities

Indian technology institutes dominate the list. These are autonomous public institutions, the first of which was established at Kharagpur in 1951 on the site of the old Hijli Detention Camp.

In total, six institutions make the list.

Originally the Thomason College of Engineering, then the University of Roorkee, the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee is one of India’s oldest universities. According to the THE, the institution was created during the construction of the Ganga Canal. It was founded to train the engineers working on the project.

Expanding higher education in India

India’s huge population offers a massive potential labour pool. With its population set to exceed China’s by 2022, the training of its citizens is vital if the country is to take advantage.

 Population of China and India 2015-2030
Image: UN

The government is working to expand access to, as well as the quality of, higher education.

The Department of Higher Education wants to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 30% by 2020. The government also hopes to promote the inclusion of groups currently underrepresented.

By 2025, over 250 million young people are set to enter the Indian workforce. As the world becomes increasingly digital, creating an appropriately skilled workforce is vital.