UGC to link Aadhaar cards to students’ bank accounts

University and college students will have to mandatorily get their Aadhaar cards if they wish to receive scholarships and fellowships extended by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the State government or else simply lose the money.

The UGC has decided to link Aadhaar cards to students’ bank accounts to facilitate effective disbursal of scholarships and fellowships and it will come into effect very soon. The UGC has asked universities to appoint a nodal officer on ‘high priority’ basis for helping students enrol for Aadhaar cards and keep it informed. Such nodal officers should be appointed in each affiliated college of the university who will have to coordinate with the State government authorities to speed up the work.

Osmania University Dean for UGC Affairs Prof. Ravindranath said UGC had issued a note in this regard and universities would have to expedite the process of securing Aadhaar cards for its students. Though no final date for linking the fellowships to Aadhaar has been given but the intention has been made very clear.

According to the present practice, students apply for fellowships to the UGC after they are authenticated by the university. The money is then transferred to the university account and students in turn get it in the form of cheques. This is with regard to various schemes like JRF, Rajiv Gandhi fellowships, CSIR fellowships, Maulana Azad fellowships and travel grants.

However, PG students are supported by the State Social Welfare Department that disburses scholarships and maintenance allowance to SC, ST, BC and EBC categories depending on the eligibility. Even this is distributed through the university. Such facility will also be linked to Aadhaar card now. About 10 lakh students benefit from financial assistance for various courses across the State.

‘Need for caution’

University officials say linking UGC fellowships to direct cash transfers have to be done with caution as fellowships are linked to students’ academic performance and regular monitoring by guides. “How can the money be transferred to students directly without the guide’s notice? In that case there will be a scope for misuse,” says P.L. Vishveshwer Rao, professor at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), adding that enough measures have to be put in place.

Prof. Rao says research fellowships are not like social welfare scholarships given to all eligible students. On the other hand, majority students in colleges and universities are yet to take Aadhaar cards as its utility value is not so far directly linked to them unlike the rural areas.