Historically, the International Statistical Education Centre (ISEC), Kolkata, was founded in 1950 through the initiative of Professor P. C. Mahalanobis, and is currently run by the Indian Statistical Institute under the auspices of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India. ISEC was opened in Kolkata by the agreement between the International Statistical Institute and the Indian Statistical Institute. According to the agreement made between the two Institutes, the latter placed its existing facilities for teaching and training at the disposal of the Centre. The International Statistical Institute agreed to provide the services of teachers from outside to the maximum extent possible either by direct payment from the UNESCO grant or by arrangement with the various National or International Organizations. Currently, International Statistical Institute is not involved with the ISEC. Beginning with the third term of ISEC Programme, the Central Statistical Office of the Government of India (GOI) is collaborating with the ISEC by organizing courses on Official Statistics.

The centre operates under a Board of Directors. Prof. C.R.Rao was functioning as the Chairman of the Board after the sad demise of Prof.P.C. Mahalanobis in 1972. Prof. S. P. Mukherjee has become the Chairman of the Board from 2016. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Member-Secretary shoulders the responsibilities of selecting the candidates for various courses, and of conducting the Regular and the Special Courses in collaboration with different wings of the Indian Statistical Institute and of the Central Statistical Office of the Government of India. He also participates in the teaching programme.

The main purpose of the Centre is to provide regular and special courses in theoretical and applied statistics at various levels to selected participants from countries in the Middle-East, the South and the South-East Asia, the Far East and from the Commonwealth Countries in Africa.
The regular course is of ten-month duration, starting from 1st August every year. Duration of special courses varies according to the needs of the trainees. Most of the candidates are officials from national statistical offices and other government departments or from financial and other business organizations.The ISEc also gets involved in collaborative training and research projects with Government Offices in different countries.