University and college students, who bring international recognition for the country in sports, will be provided free education.

“Any sportsperson who brings laurels to the country will be given free education up to the highest level,” Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here on Friday. The guidelines in this regard have been approved.

Financial assistance will be reimbursed by the University Grants Commission to the university concerned.

The university on its part will make “special efforts” in terms of completion of syllabus and attendance of the sportsperson, according to the guidelines. This step would bring big relief to sportspersons who need to spend additional time practising, and miss classes as a result. Recently Unmukt Chand, captain of India’s triumphant under-19 cricket team, faced a hard time when he wasn’t promoted due to insufficient attendance, till the Delhi University Vice-Chancellor stepped in.

Mr. Sibal also announced a national-level university cricket league and university-level hockey league to promote sports in a big way in the campuses.

The cricket league would be played among the top eight universities in T-20 format, from among those who qualify through a zonal competition. Similarly, the hockey league will be played among the top eight teams selected through zonal competitions.

NDTV is launching this initiative with the Association of Indian Universities (AIU). An organising committee, chaired by the HRD Minister, has been set up for the purpose, comprising representatives of UGC, AIU, NDTV, vice-chancellors of several universities, New Delhi Municipal Council and prominent persons.

Mr. Sibal also said that he had taken up the issue of hike in the prices of cooking gas cylinders — which had upset the Ministry’s budget under the Mid Day Meal Scheme — with the Petroleum Ministry, seeking an exemption. Either the Petroleum Ministry needs to grant exemption in the price hike for cylinders procured for the Mid Day Meal scheme, or the Finance Ministry has to give more money, Mr. Sibal added.

Winning a medal in a national event, or participation in international events recognised by the World University Service, International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Committee of Asia will guarantee a scholarship for the academic year in publicly funded educational institutions. For the subsequent year, the support will depend on their sports performance.

Scholarships for medal winners and participants in international events will meet the actual expenses of a bachelor’s degree, post-graduate diploma, and PG degree.