Fingerprinting International Students

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Two British universities have taken the radical step of fingerprinting their international students to monitor lecture attendance. The universities of Sunderland and Ulster have both brought in this unprecedented system to comply with new government rules, but have faced heavy criticism for it.

The ‘biometric monitoring systems' are used at satellite campuses in London, which are home to only overseas students. It is this discrimination between British and foreign students that has been roundly condemned, with the NUS leading the chorus of concern.

International students' officer Daniel Stevens claimed the measures are "incredibly unwelcoming" and "unfairly target one group", adding that:

"It is appalling that certain institutions have required physical checks of any quantity and have discriminated against international students when implementing monitoring procedures."

Such concerns have been echoed by Sunderland students' union president Carl Taylor who called it a "limitation of freedom".

Indeed, another institution- Newcastle University, scrapped their idea to use a similar fingerprinting system after a student union vote against it.

"Really Comfortable"

Senior figures from both universities have defended the new schemes, claiming it is the best way to monitor attendance.

Ruth Davison, student relations and compliance manager at Sunderland, argued that previous attempts to use swipe passes led to students signing each other in, and that taking a physical register "has a huge impact on teaching and learning". She also insisted that the students are "really comfortable" with the fingerprinting.

A spokesperson from Ulster stated that the system was initially introduced in response to the new Home Office rules (which have now been scrapped) requiring universities to monitor overseas students' attendance. It is all part of the government's plan to reduce the number of student visas by finding and stopping ‘bogus students' from entering the country.

Would you be happy to have your finger prints scanned every time you went to a lecture? Would you feel it a "limitation of freedom"? Let us know below.

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