A panel set up by the HRD ministry to give recommendations for the formulation of a New Education Policy (NEP) has suggested creation of a National Higher Education Fellowship Fund which will give 10 lakh fellowships for higher study.

“A National Higher Education Fellowship Fund may be created, which will offer 10 lakh new fellowships annually for qualified students belonging to economically weaker sections to pursue higher study,” the committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian has said in its report.

The Committee is satisfied that this step will improve equity and accessibility in the higher education sector, it added.It observed that the UGC currently distributes about Rs 1050 crore annually as higher education tuition or fellowship to about 82,000 beneficiaries covering 35,000 fellowships each year.

This represents around 200 scholarship schemes of the MHRD as well as other ministries, it said, adding it does not include the fellowships of other agencies like those in agriculture, defence, science and technology, CSIR etc.

With the objective of encouraging merit and promoting equity, the Committee recommends the establishment of a National Fellowship Fund, primarily designed to support the tuition fees, learning material and living expenses for about 10 lakh students every year,” the panel has said.These scholarships should be made available to students belonging to the economically weaker sections, specifically those below the poverty line, it added.

In addition to the on-going National Talent Search Examination being conducted by the NCERT at class 10 stage, the Committee recommends that there should be another national level talent search competitive examination at +2 level for all categories of students, and those who achieve prescribed criteria should be provided scholarships covering tuition fees, learning material and living expenses to pursue higher education.

The panel has also said that a separate national talent scholarship scheme to be administered after class 12 may be set up for meritorious of all categories selected through a national level examination.