Swansea University have recently announced that for the academic year 2016/2017 students for the first time will have to use their student card to sign in to lectures, labs and teaching spaces upon entering the room. Students will be required to sign in upon entering and if more than 10 minutes late, the sign in will be labelled as a late arrival on file.
The official response on the reasoning for the change is to ensure monitoring of students so they can aid if an individual is not attending lectures or falling behind. Another section of the official response mentions that the University is required to monitor attendance data for outside sponsors and monitoring bodies.
The university in their official explanation for attendance monitoring and how it works in practice uses strong language to explain the consequences of not attending lectures. Students in the future will not be permitted to miss lectures and must liaise with their college if they are away for a significant period. The language becomes more extreme for students who miss 2 weeks of teaching sessions with reference made to the attendance monitoring process taking effect, and a threat of “withdrawal from the university” if students continue to not attend lectures. While many students have commented that they will “sign in their friend’s cards”, the university have categorised this as an offence and any student caught doing this could face disciplinary action. The extent of the disciplinary action that would occur however, is unclear.
Many students are upset with the change, arguing that since they pay a significant sum of money to the university, it should be their choice whether they attend lectures or not “Lectures should be optional. If people don’t want to do things then it’s not up to the university to babysit and make them do it. Not to mention how much this will have cost, when the money could be spent better on things, like funding the COAH properly etc.”
Other students have questioned how the system will work in practice, as students who arrive early will have to crowd around the scanner at the beginning of lectures, to ensure their attendance was recorded, potentially disrupting the first 10 minutes of a lecture “This is going to be very awkward for anybody who enters a lecture theatre 5 minutes early, if the system has to record you as dead on the hour when scanning. One hundred students will all have to climb over each other to use the scanner and in the event that takes longer than 10 minutes, you get recorded as late. Not to mention time lost during the lecture hour for learning.”
It remains to be seen how the change will affect students in the upcoming academic year and how students will respond to the greater monitoring by the university.