Newcastle University students say NO to attendance monitoring

Over 1500 students have cast their vote in the referendum on attendance monitoring at Newcastle University.

The results were declared last Friday at the Students’ Union, and an overwhelming majority said no to biometric monitoring in the form of ‘finger swiping’. Only 320 voted in favour, while 1206 voted against it.

The other two referendum questions were:

Should attendance be monitored at University? Yes: 617; no: 904.

Should all students’ attendance be monitored if so? Yes: 813; no: 700.

Newcastle University Students’ Union decided to hold the referendum, after they amended an earlier motion passed at the Students’ Union Council meeting to reject the use of biometric scanning.

The Union voted on the issue during a Council meeting on 8 November, and decided to hold the referendum in parallel to the Union elections.

The elections ran from 26 November until 29 November and the votes were cast online through the Union’s electronic voting and survey system.

The UKBA (United Kingdom Border Control Agency) wants universities across the UK to maintain attendance records of International students to check fraudulent practices adopted by some posing as students to enter the country for work. Newcastle University has so far used sign-in sheets to monitor the students’ attendance, and is looking into other methods like smartcard scanning and finger swiping.

Despite the fact UKBA’s directive applies only to international students, Newcastle University is recording the attendance for all students to avoid segregation.

Nora Altuwayjiri an MA student living in Jesmond said: “I don’t think that attendance should be monitored at Universities, and if it is, it should be monitored for everyone and not just international students.”

Nora is studying Media and Journalism at Newcastle University, and wants to continue her job as lecturer at King Saud University in Riyadh after graduation.

“I wouldn’t approve of fingerprint swiping because I’m not a criminal, and I think it’s kind of offensive that the university doesn’t trust its students.

“I’m sure not everyone is responsible enough, but I think it’s a shame that we need to endure this because of a few reckless individuals.”

Sreevijeth Ravi, student councillor and welfare and community (WAC) officer at Newcastle University said: “I think that the attendance of international students should be monitored as its serves the purpose, as well as reminds you to attend classes regularly.

“When I discussed this issue with some of the international students they had mixed opinions. Some said they were fine with their attendance being monitored, but a few went on to say that they should be given the freedom to choose rather than making it a compulsion.”

One thought on “Newcastle University students say NO to attendance monitoring”

  1. Jam the Ham says:

    What fails to come through here, however, that apart from the biometrics landslide, the two referendums on whether we should have attendance, or whether all students should be monitored gives no legitimacy to one side or the other, and does in fact play directly against the 904 no monitoring votes. Because international students must keep records of their attendance for the UKBA, the fact that the second poll, whether all students should be monitored won effectively negates the results of the first poll (should the first poll have gone the wrong way, for example). If all students should be monitored, and some of them can’t not be monitored, then, in effect, for those voting for a pro-choice attendance, voting yes on the second proposal undermined their vote on the first poll. What we have here is a good ole’ napoleonic stitch up. I admire the duplicity, but cannot help but question the ethics.

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