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Navigating Opportunities: Your Guide to Student Recruitment in North East India

Megha Srivastav Associate Director, South Asia

As universities worldwide seek new markets to diversify their student bodies, North East (NE) India emerges as a promising frontier. This region comprises 8 states, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura – often called “The Seven Sisters”, and Sikkim – referred to as the “Brother” to the seven states. The area is buzzing with potential, yet it feels like we’re only scratching the surface. Despite an increase in institutional visits, the full potential of NE India remains largely untapped.

Why should North East India be part of your University Recruitment Plan?

NE India is rich in cultural diversity and is home to numerous ethnic groups and languages. This unique cultural landscape brings fresh perspectives that can significantly enrich university campuses. Daipayan Dutta from IDP Guwahati highlights that “Students from this region are recognized for their academic excellence, strong English language skills, and low visa rejection rates, making them highly desirable candidates for international education.”

Abhinav B Gogoi, Chief Growth Officer at Inspirus Education, emphasizes the potential of NE Indias students: “Prestigious schools in the region, such as the Assam Valley School, Royal Global School, DPSs, St. Edmunds, and MBRS, consistently produce academically proficient students eager to pursue higher education abroad. These schools uphold rigorous curricula, ensuring students are thoroughly prepared for international studies.” He further emphasises on the regions underrepresentation in global universities: “Historically, NE India has been overlooked due to limited awareness and outreach. By focusing on this region, international universities can tap into a new reservoir of talented students seeking global opportunities. This presents a unique opportunity to attract high-quality students from an emerging market.”

What makes University Outreach so challenging in this region?

Limited Exposure to Universities: The region has not seen as many university visits or interactions as other parts of India, leading to a lack of familiarity and trust.

Lack of School Counselors : While some high schools have counselors, many lack dedicated study abroad counselors, leading to the need to bridge the gap in information and support for higher education opportunities.

Cultural Barriers: The diverse cultural background of the region requires a nuanced approach that respects and understands local traditions and values.

Geographical Challenges: The remote and varied geography can make physical outreach more challenging and less frequent.

Ajay Sharma,Founder Director of Student Outreach, advises a more strategic approach: “Universities often miss the mark in NE India by relying on sporadic visits and generic programs. Short-term recruitment efforts dont work here. Success requires building long-term relationships and understanding the unique cultural nuances and geographical challenges of the region. A personalized, consistent, and well-planned approach is key to establishing a strong presence in this untapped market.”

Market Snapshot

Students from NE India predominantly lean towards postgraduate aspirations. Recently, there has been a burgeoning interest in undergraduate programs, particularly in STEM fields, business, economics, humanities, and international relations. The market is brand conscious and scholarship-driven, with a keen eye on opportunities in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, and Australia. Additionally, Ireland is increasingly becoming a popular destination for students from the region.

Key Cities for University Outreach

Guwahati: A central hub for both postgraduate and undergraduate recruitment. Schedule meetings with agent offices and higher education institutions here.

Shillong: Shillong is a prominent centre for undergraduate recruitment, bolstered by its concentration of top-tier schools.

Tezpur: Important for attracting both undergraduate and postgraduate students

Dimapur and Duliajan: Growing significance in undergraduate recruitment.

Student Characteristics

Students from NE India are known for their strong English proficiency and academic excellence. Financially capable and brand-conscious, they tend to prefer well-reputed institutions due to limited exposure to a wider array of universities. Their decision-making process is often heavily influenced by personal connections, including recommendations from seniors and family members.

According to Leonard Rozario from Ahmedabad University, one of the common myths about NE Indian students is that they are not interested in exploring unknown regions, cities, or universities. He states, In my experience as a University Rep who has traveled extensively in the region, students from NE India are extremely ambitious and smart. They are eager to learn about better opportunities. Therefore, it is important for every university rep to inform, counsel, and support these students, and to have a sustainable outreach over the years.

High Schools & Higher Education Institutions ( HEIs) to target

Your Cheat Code for the first University Outreach to NE India

Key Focus Cities

  • Guwahati: Schedule meetings with schools, HEIs and agent offices
  • Shillong: Concentrate on engaging with top schools to maximize student outreach

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 (Guwahati)

  • Meet with schools, institutions, and agents

Day 2 (Tezpur)

  • Travel from Guwahati to Tezpur ( Approx 3-4 hours)
  • Visit Assam Valley School.
  • Explore Tezpur and Kaziranga University (if time allows).
  • Return to Guwahati

Day 3 (Guwahati)

  • Full day of meetings with institutions and agents

Day 4 (Shillong)

  • Travel from Guwahati to Shillong (Approx 3 hours).
  • Focus on high school visits.

Day 5 (Guwahati)

  • Return to Guwahati from Shillong and wrap up meetings.

Accommodation Recommendations


  • Vivanta, Novotel, and Lily: Located on GS Road, convenient for visiting agent offices and institutions. These hotels offer a range of amenities and are well-regarded.


  • Centre Point and Polo Towers: These older hotels have a good reputation. Centre Point is centrally located, while Polo Tower is slightly farther from the city centre.
  • Vivanta and Marriot: Newer hotels offering modern amenities.

Additional Tips

  • Be prepared for traffic in Shillong, and plan your meetings accordingly, especially around Police Bazaar.
  • Engage with local educations and agents for insights and support during your visit.
  • Keep an eye on local school fairs, such as the one at Assam Valley School, to maximize your outreach efforts.

In Conclusion

NE India presents a largely untapped market brimming with potential for international student recruitment. By adopting a strategic, personalized, and consistent approach, universities can establish a strong presence in this culturally rich and academically excellent region. Engage deeply, understand the unique challenges, and build long-term relationships to unlock the opportunities in NE India.

**Thanks to Afshana Hoque Jafri, Senior Program Officer @ University of Rochester, who co-authored this article.

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