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Subsidies need discretion, not fanfares

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-07-14 09:23

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. 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 college 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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