Sub­si­dies need dis­cre­tion, not fan­fares

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - A TAR­GETED SUB­SIDY PRO­GRAM,

de­vel­oped 13 years ago by the Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy of China in He­fei, East China’s An­hui province, has un­ob­tru­sively helped more than 40,000 stu­dents in need of fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance with a to­tal of 6 mil­lion yuan ($900,000) as of now. Thep­a­ com­mented on Thurs­day:

In­stead of dis­clos­ing all the re­cip­i­ents’ names and how much money they re­ceive in sub­si­dies, the Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy of China has man­aged to help scores of stu­dents in a less em­bar­rass­ing yet more ef­fec­tive man­ner. Its sub­sidy pro­gram mon­i­tors stu­dents’ real-time spend­ing via their stu­dent cards and au­to­mat­i­cally trans­fers money to stu­dents who spend less than 200 yuan in the cam­pus can­teens in a month.

The al­go­rithm is not flaw­less, though, be­cause in some in­stances stu­dents may re­frain from go­ing to the can­teens in or­der to get the money. But it has been get­ting bet­ter over the years as the univer­sity has kept track of stu­dents’ men­tal health and fam­ily sit­u­a­tions with­out in­fring­ing on their pri­vacy.

Its suc­cess has in­spired many other uni­ver­si­ties to fol­low suit — for good rea­son. In­tended to as­sist col-

lege stu­dents with poor fam­ily back­grounds, the sub­sidy poli­cies in many uni­ver­si­ties have ended up em­bar­rass­ing ev­ery­one. On the one hand, in some uni­ver­si­ties stu­dents have to make pub­lic speeches to prove their eli­gi­bil­ity for a sub­sidy. On the other, re­cip­i­ents are “en­cour­aged” by some uni­ver­si­ties to ex­press their grat­i­tude in front of cam­eras and re­porters.

That is not all. They also risk los­ing the perks if they are found to be “mis­us­ing” them. A col­lege stu­dent in Xi’an, cap­i­tal of North­west China’s Shaanxi province, was de­prived of his sub­sidy last year after he bought him­self a lap­top, some­thing the school deemed “be­yond his al­lowance and fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­ity”.

Col­leges should get rid of these ob­so­lete, ill-con­sid­ered man­age­ment ap­proaches in the name of fair­ness. De­serv­ing young re­cip­i­ents have ev­ery right to be funded with dig­nity.

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