India will take necessary steps to extend affordable education for NRI students to reduce disparities in the fee structure in Indian universities, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said here Tuesday.
"We want to make education in India affordable for our overseas students," Ravi said at the two-day Economic Editors' Conference that began Tuesday.
Ravi said the government was aware that huge disparities existed in the fee structures for NRI students in private professional colleges. "In some colleges it is almost five times more than the general category."
He said the Supreme Court of India had directed private educational institutions to reserve 15 percent seats for NRI students and also permitted them to decide the fees to be charged from them.
"But this is a disturbing matter. We have already taken up this issue with the human resource development ministry," the minister said.
According to ministry officials, the government had already okayed in principal the proposal for a PIO (persons of Indian origin) university - fully funded by the NRIs and PIOs. "The new policy for the proposed PIO university is in the final stages," Ravi said.
The university, spread over 100 hectares, is likely to be set up in a special economic zone, which would give the investors tax exemptions.
"The location of the university is yet to be finalised," Ravi told IANS, adding that the university will also admit Indian students to "encourage interactions between the two groups".
The university will conform to the University of Grants Commission, All India Centre of Technical Education and the Medical Council of Education standards. But it will remain fully autonomous, officials said.
A government committee in 2001 had recommended the setting up of universities and professional institutions for NRIs as quality education was not available to many Indians abroad due to legal and economic factors in some countries.
"There has been consistent demand from Indian diaspora in different forums of assistance from the government to facilitate for their children's education," Ravi pointed out.
India has a 25-million strong diaspora living in some 110 countries.