The Union Cabinet has approved the policy framework for establishing a Non-resident Indian/Person of Indian Origin (NRI/PIO) university in India.
To be located in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) as a deemed university under the UGC Act, it will be set up by overseas Indian trusts or societies with credibility and experience in the field of education under the overall supervision of the government.
Business Standard, last October, had reported on a proposal being considered by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to establish a PIO university. The PIO university will help the Indian diaspora to meet the aspiration of overseas Indians for availing higher education opportunities in India besides aiding in developing bilateral links with India.
There are around 25 million people of Indian origin living abroad in nearly 130 countries. Students from these countries, particularly in the developing world, where educational facilities are either not available or are limited, look up to India for their higher educational needs. In developed countries like the US and UK, where higher education is expensive, students explore opportunities to come to India and pursue a degree.
The university will be a state-of-the-art university offering courses on a wide range of subjects medical, engineering and humanities and management at the undergraduate and post-graduate level and will have a hostel facility too. The fee in this designated university will be foreign currency, according to sources. Even the Indian students will have to pay in foreign currency. The concept is said to be on par with the scheme of special economic zones (SEZs) for education wherein the participants may get tax benefits in terms of payment of fee.
A PIO is a person of Indian origin who is not a citizen of India. To issue a PIO Card, the Indian government considers anyone of Indian origins up to four generations removed to be a PIO. Almost 67 per cent of all Indians living abroad have a bachelor's or a master's degree, according to the Indian American Centre for Political Awareness. The case is no different in other countries. It's their sons and daughters that the Indian government is targeting.
"There are many PIO students studying in India at various universities. Through this proposal bringing the PIO students on one campus and provide them quality higher education will be possible. This will also promote India as an education hub," said a source.
Meanwhile, the government plans to invite bids from Indian universities as well as international universities for the same. The criteria for the universities to apply would be their experience in the field of education, financial security and credibility.
Manipal University is considered to be one of the bidders for this proposed university.
It had also offered 100 acres of land available with it in Manipal and Bangalore. The initial idea was to set up a medical university along with a hospital. Courses on engineering, management and humanities were also to be taken up.
Though costing for the university has not been worked out as yet, it is estimated it would run in to few hundred crores. The corporate entity of Manipal education and medical group had decided to invest Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) to set up the university.