Newcastle University students protest biometric scanner move

UNIVERSITY students may have to scan their fingerprints in future - to prove they are not bunking off lectures.

Newcastle University plans to introduce biometric scanners to bring it in line with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and clamp down on illegal immigrants.

However, it also believes the new system will keep on top of attendance and identify home students in need of support

Students and staff - many of whom are already protesting the move - will be monitored through the Student Attendance system from the start of next academic year.

Exactly how it will work is still in question but one option would be to introduce finger scanners at lectures and classes which will recognise students' fingerprints and collect data on which sessions they  attend.

Newcastle University says the move is necessary to meet their obligation to UKBA and ensure international students don't use student visas as a way to sneak into the country and work illegally.

But some students and staff claim the move is "'unnecessary and intrusive".

Newcastle Free Education Network has organised protests against the plans, claiming the scanners would "'turn universities into border checkpoints" and "reduce university to the attendance of lectures alone".

In a referendum at the Students’ Union, 1,200 students voted against the scheme, with just 320 voting in favour.

Dr Kyle Grayson, a senior lecturer in international politics at the university, warned that finger scanning risked ruining the university’s reputation overseas.

"I have had international students say that they don’t pay thousands of pounds a year to be treated like they are on probation.

"The majority of students, especially at a university like Newcastle, are genuine. They are creating this whole surveillance operation to deal with something which isn’t a big problem.

Dr Grayson said home students had also raised concerns about how the data could be used, or what would happen if it was breached.

Jeannette Strachan, academic registrar for student and academic services at the university, said various options are being considered.

She said: "As part of UKBA licence agreements, every university is obliged to carry out attendance monitoring to be able to certify at any time, to any visit by the UKBA, that an international student is present on campus and engaged in their studies.

 

"If either a student or a university does not comply with UKBA requirements then that student and university is at risk of severe sanctions."

 

 

Comments (3)

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5:18pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Spy Boy says...

Can't see a problem. When you work, you clock in, or sign in. This is to ensure that people are in for lectures when called. If you go when you are supposed to then you have no problems with this. If, on the other han, you don't, or someone goes in your place there is a problem and that is being rectified. 'I fear he doth protest too much.' I have noted that people who fight against these issues are the very ones who abuse the system.
Can't see a problem. When you work, you clock in, or sign in. This is to ensure that people are in for lectures when called. If you go when you are supposed to then you have no problems with this. If, on the other han, you don't, or someone goes in your place there is a problem and that is being rectified. 'I fear he doth protest too much.' I have noted that people who fight against these issues are the very ones who abuse the system. Spy Boy

1:50am Sat 15 Dec 12

stlemur says...

Show me a single genuine example of someone getting accepted to a UK university, paying thousands of pounds in tuition fees, and using that as a way to sneak into the country and work. It happens in private colleges, sure, because hundreds of private colleges are scams to separate students from their money, but when has it ever happened in higher education?
Show me a single genuine example of someone getting accepted to a UK university, paying thousands of pounds in tuition fees, and using that as a way to sneak into the country and work. It happens in private colleges, sure, because hundreds of private colleges are scams to separate students from their money, but when has it ever happened in higher education? stlemur

8:56am Sat 15 Dec 12

Guy Smithy says...

Another typical solution, push biometrics on British people over immigration who shouldn't have to be even slightly inconvenienced by such things.
Another typical solution, push biometrics on British people over immigration who shouldn't have to be even slightly inconvenienced by such things. Guy Smithy

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