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Lead Officer Role: 
Education Officer

What you need to know

  • UCL academic regulations require student attendance of 70% and barring decisions are made based on written records of attendance. Students whose attendance falls below the attendance requirements are ineligible for summative assessment.
  • UCL is required to report student non-engagement to the UK immigration authorities.
  • Currently there is no consistent institutional-wide method whereby UCL monitors attendance and there are a few departments that have their own attendance monitoring systems.
  • UCL have begun a project for attendance monitoring for which they have a budget of £642K to scope attendance monitoring at an institutional level.
  • UCL’s three main reasons for this project are for:
    • Regulatory purposes as the academic regulations require student attendance of 70% and for tier 4 compliance reasons.
    • Academic reasons as students who miss timetables sessions may be doing so because they are already struggling with their studies and it will be easier to alert staff so that they can provide students with academic support
    • Pastoral reasons as non-attendance may reflect wider problems in a student’s life which their personal tutors may be able to assist with and provide preventative support at an earlier stage.
  • The proposed technology for this will likely involve location specific beacons that will then send signals to students’ smart phones and students will be asked to check in.
  • Leeds and Leeds Beckett recently rolled out a campus-wide attendance monitoring using the beacon system. Leeds soon received backlash from students who submitted a policy against it. The university has since withdrawn the system for a semester to answer these complaints.
  • In the summer of 2017 this union passed policy opposing in the introduction of attendance monitoring and calling for the attendance requirement to be scrapped.
  • UCL are currently consulting on the proposed system, and the union’s sabbatical officers is drafting its response.
  • However, at a recent meeting the Provost confirmed that senior management was planning to roll it out irrespective of the outcome of this consultation.
  • UCL requires about £1.4 million for lecturecast expansion across the entire university where it is not yet installed, and comes from the same budget as the attendance monitoring budget.
  • The union is demanding £340,000 to properly fund our student psychological services.

What Union Council thinks about this

  • Students should be made aware of such a major change affecting their experience, and they should have a chance to provide their input.
  • A genuine concern for student welfare would be better demonstrated by increasing funding of student psychological services or attention to personal tutoring
  • Poor outcomes of UCL’s Tier 4 visa compliance audit suggest an inadequate engagement monitoring system. This should not be deemed as valid motivation or opportunity to introduce an entirely new attendance monitoring system in its place
  • The results of a referendum will be a powerful signal to UCL of the sentiment felt by the student community.

What the Union should do about it

  • To hold a referendum: “UCL has budgeted £642,000 to implement a new attendance monitoring system with the intent of surveilling students’ compliance with the 70% attendance requirement. This money should instead go towards lecturecast expansion, an improved personal tutoring system or Student Psychological Services, and the attendance requirement as a whole should be scrapped.” The options will be “Agree/Disagree”.