The CPRHE is envisaged to act as a think tank in higher education policy and planning in India. The Centre will analyze trends in higher education development; promote research to generate reliable information base for policy and planning; help develop long-term perspective plans at the Centre and state levels; and encourage policy dialogues involving national and state-level education policy makers and develop a network of educational researcher institutions, universities and international institutions and organizations engaged in policy analysis and research in higher education.

The CPRHE is engaged in higher education policy research focusing on the current national priorities in the following inter-related areas: a) expanding and improving the provision of higher education ensuring equity and inclusion; b) enhancing quality; c) improving relevance of study programmes and employability of higher education graduates; d) improving financial efficiency and flows; e) strengthening teaching learning process and improving learning outcomes; and f) increasing efficiency and effectiveness of governance and management.

Based on the research studies the CPRHE will be bringing out research papers, research reports, policy briefs and books and articles in academic journals. These documents will form the basis for organizing policy dialogues, consultation meetings and seminars in an effort to make policy making and planning in the country more evidence based.