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University of Hyderabad Awards E-Diplomas

To verify a new employee's academic credentials, Indian companies use an RFID interrogator to read an embedded tag encoded with a recipient's name, graduation date, transcript and other identifying data.
By Claire Swedberg
Upon accepting a job, a graduate can present the diploma to an employer, says M. Vidyasagar, executive VP at TCS. The employer can log onto the TCS Web site—the URL is indicated on the back of the diploma—download the TCS software necessary to read the encrypted data on the diploma chip, and utilize an RFID interrogator to read the tag and download its data. This information can then be used to verify the identity of the new employee.

Colleges also have the option of including a thumbprint on the chip, which an employer can use to further guarantee a match between the diploma and the new hire. Hasnain says the university is already transitioning toward a thumbprint solution by taking prints from each new student arriving at the school. "In the past," he says, "we didn't ask, but now when a student joins our program, we get a thumb impression."

Once those students graduate, their diploma chips will include a thumbprint, but not a photograph. Hasnain points out that photographs can often be difficult to match against an employee, especially since their faces can change with age. The thumbprint, however, remains the same, and also requires less space on the chip. "A thumb impression would be for life," he says.

According to Hasnain, the first year's diplomas have been well received among employers. "In India, there is a lot of hiring in the IT sector," he says. Although employers must first invest in RFID interrogators to benefit from the e-diploma, he says many are willingly doing so. "The University of Hyderabad has a reputation, and the result is good-quality, well-placed, sought-after students. Even now, in just a few months' time, companies are telling us they like the system." Hasnain estimates the handheld readers cost about 2,500 rupees ($60) apiece. Each student pays 400 rupees ($10) to receive an e-diploma. Before the RFID system was put in place, students did not pay directly for diplomas.

Currently, the tag's read-write memory is locked once a diploma is issued to a particular student. But in the future, Vidyasagar says, employers will be able to add data to the diploma, such as the date of hire and the location of the individual's new job, to maintain an exact record of that person's work history. All data would be stored on the chip, rather than on a server, Vidyasagar adds, though colleges could also keep records if they opted to.

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