Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said the government will work to remove imbalances and streamline equity-related schemes in higher education.
"We will keep in view concerns for equity. We will work to remove imbalances across states, across regions and across sections of society. We will streamline our equity-related schemes in higher education, target them better and provide them with increased budgetary support," Singh said at a conference of vice chancellors of central universities being held in New Delhi at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Asserting that he expected central universities to be quality-leading institutions, the prime minister said: "We envisage a very important role for central universities in setting standards for higher education. We expect them to become role models and contribute to strengthening other institutions of higher learning in their vicinity."
"Some central universities in far-flung areas can also contribute to reducing academic imbalances in our country," he said.
The prime minister said the educational landscape of India had been transformed beyond recognition and that "this transformation has touched all levels and types of education - primary, secondary, higher, vocational and skill development".
"I believe our government has given education its due. We have expanded access to education as never before. We have increased investment in education as never before. The share of education in the total outlay went up from 6.7 percent in the 10th Five Year Plan to 19.4 percent in the 11th Five Year Plan," he added.
"We have endeavoured to take care of the concerns for equity, enhancing scholarships and setting up institutions. It is for this emphasis on education that I have often referred to the 11th Plan as an Education Plan," the prime minister said.
Listing the government's achievements in education, he said: "Our government established 51 institutions during the 11th Five Year Plan, the highest for any plan period. These include central universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs)."
"The number of central universities has more than doubled after 2004-05, from 17 to 44. Each state now has at least one central university, except Goa where the state government did not want one. Special financial assistance was provided to the existing central institutions to enable them to provide 27 percent reservation for the other backward classes without affecting the number of general seats," he said.
"These efforts have shown results. The enrolment in higher education grew from 16.6 crore to 25.9 crore during the 11th Five Year Plan. The gross enrolment ratio for higher education went up from 12.3 percent in 2006-07 to 17.9 percent in 2011-12. However, this is still much below the world average of 26 percent," Singh said.