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Government announces plan to digitise academic records

Livemint:  September 12, 2016

New Delhi: The Union government on Friday announced to digitize all academic records from secondary to tertiary-level institutions and will hire National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) and Central Depository Services Ltd (CDLS) for implementing the move.

The move comes almost five years after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government initiated the process, and will address concerns, including academic frauds, and facilitate job verification and background checks on candidates seeking employment or further education.

“It will be a reality soon and will be beneficial for all stakeholders. NSDL and CDLS will work on this,” said human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar.

“All educational institutions, including universities, will implement the scheme. It will be hugely beneficial for students,” the minister said.

The digital depository will be established on the lines of security depositories.

Javadekar said the security depositories in the country have already made dematerialization of financial securities such as stocks of companies and have been ensuring the safety of the financial wealth investors. This system can now be replicated for educational awards, he said.

Degrees, diplomas, mark sheets, migration certificate, skill certificate, etc., will be digitized and put in the national academic depository (NAD).

Higher education secretary said the depository will share students’ information with anyone—like an employer or background screening firms—only after getting consent from a student. But companies have been complaining about frauds in job applications, including academic frauds, and because of the lack of a national system that can help them verify academic records online by paying a nominal fee.

A so-called “discrepancy analysis” by First Advantage, a global background screening company, found that the rate of discrepancies in 2015 were at a five-year high with some 11.5% of job-seekers having fudged some of their data last year.

The discrepancy trend for the previous four calendar years—2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014—showed an average of 10% discrepancy in the first three years, rising to 10.5% in 2014.

The NAD will authenticate records, eliminate the menace of fake and forged awards without flouting privacy.

The ministry is looking to tag the academic records with the Aadhaar number to facilitate verification, e-KYC and retrieval.

Suraj Saharan, co-founder and chief people officer of Delhivery, a logistics company catering to e-commerce firms, had said on Wednesday that India needs to have a database of workers to facilitate clean hiring as background checks on employees is a tedious process.

The HRD ministry said NAD will start operations from 2017 with the 2016 academic records as its base and from the next academic year, the government will make sure that all institutions and school boards issue digitized certificates with digital signatures to facilitate the process.

The depositories—NSDL and CDLS—will ensure integrity of the data lodged in the NAD.

Educational institutions can lodge the data with any of the two depositories but there will be “inter-operability”—meaning, institutions, students and other stake holders can access data from either of the depositories.

While educational institutions will be registering the students data online, students can themselves log in to the NAD and put their previous academic records by linking their Aadhaar number and fulfilling an e-KYC.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.