Thousands of students, researchers and varsity teachers across India may soon be able to apply online for University Grants Commission (UGC) scholarships and track their applications at the click of a mouse.
The UGC plans to introduce online application and tracking mechanisms for all scholarships, fellowships, awards and grants in a move that could stymie criticism over a lack of transparency top sources said.
Acting chairman Ved Prakash is keen on the initiative, which follows close on the heels of the UGC’s decision to provide those selected through the National Eligibility Test (NET) electronic certificates within six days of the announcement of results.
Thousands of students, teachers and researchers — apart from educational institutions — who apply to the UGC each year for financial support at present have no clear mechanism to track applications.
This has often led to complaints that touts or middlemen use this opacity to fast-track select applications in exchange for bribe. These allegations have played a key role in damaging the UGC’s reputation, senior commission officials argue."One of the biggest criticisms of the UGC over the years has been a perceived absence of transparency. These moves could help counter that perception and help create a new image for the UGC," a senior government official said.
The UGC, India’s apex higher education regulator, offers scholarships at various stages of higher education to single girls, students belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, and minorities.
It also offers 20 different schemes under which universities can seek fund support apart from an additional two programmes meant for colleges. The UGC offers three financial assistance schemes for university departments.
It also offers six grant and fellowship schemes for individual faculty members and researchers.
The commission is at present running a limited, pilot programme, allowing researchers and faculty members to track their applications for a travel grant that the UGC offers to facilitate visits abroad for conferences.