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UGC wants biometric scanners to track students in classrooms and hostels

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The University Grants Commision (UGC) of India has asked higher educational institutions in the country to install biometric devices in classrooms and hostels as a means to mark attendance in class and in order to “keep an eye on a student’s movement and whereabouts in failsafe manner.”

“Biometric way of marking student attendance, both in higher education institutions as well as hostels, can be an effective way to overcome proxy,” the UGC said in its guidelines for students’ safety. The Times of India reports that Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (DAVV) is soon likely to install biometric devices on its campus and hostels following the UGC’s directive. Vishakapatnam’s AVN College also has installed biometric machines to mark students’ attendance as indicated by this Hindu report.

The Himachal Pradesh University also had a similar proposal for biometric machines  to check for attendances. Interestingly, this proposal was met with opposition with some members of the faculty as teachers needed to adjust their class timings according to their needs and that they could not be present for attendance on a fixed time. It’s also interesting to note that earlier this month Rajasthan higher education minister Kalicharan Saraf mandated that all colleges and universities in the state be equipped with biometric systems to check absenteeism among teaching and non-teaching staff.

Safety app

The UGC  also advocated an emergency notification system for students through which emergency message can be sent via email, telephone, cell phone and text messaging within minutes of the occurrence of an incident.

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Note, the UGC also set up an  ‘Online students grievance redressal portal’. The students and the universities along with their affiliated colleges will soon have the option to report their grievances related to unfair practices, admissions and other issues to the UGC and the portal is to facilitate this process. Perhaps the portal could also integrate students’ safety issues?

Other biometric attendance systems

Earlier in October 2014, the Indian government’s centralized attendance monitoring website to monitor and track the work of all central government employees, attendance.gov.in was launched. Attendance is verified using a six-digit number generated from the employee’s Aadhaar number via a biometric scanner, which then uses a fingerprint scanner to confirm authentication.

The Haryana government has a similar proposal to launch  Aadhaar-enabled Biometric Attendance System in all offices of the State Government.

However it needs to be noted that biometric attendance systems have been met with resistance as only 39% of staff in Delhi have registered their presence through biometric system as indicated by this DNA report. Another report by Zee News points that the Defence ministry had the defaulted the highest in marking their attendance through the Aadhaar-enabled biometric system.

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