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Newcastle University students vote against biometrics to track course attendance


Voting 1,206 to 320, students at Newcastle University have rejected biometric measures proposed to monitor course attendance on the school campus.

Reported by the Courier Online, a student newspaper at Newcastle, the university aims to implement a new attendance monitoring system in September 2013, and other options include smart card scanners or PIN-entry systems now that the Students’ Union – facilitated referendum showed such overwhelming resistance to biometric attendance monitoring at the school.

If biometric attendance systems were to be introduced at Newcastle, they would be joining a growing number of institutions looking to biometrics to more effectively track attendance. As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, earlier this year, Israel’s parliament drafted a law that would see full-time Talmud scholars submit fingerprint scans. Likewise, Principals of several school districts in Florida are seriously considering the installation of biometric scanners at school facilities. Recently, McCague Borlack LLP, a Toronto law firm announced plans to introduce biometrics for employee time tracking.

According to the Courier article, by UK Border Agency law, only international students require attendance monitoring.

“I think the right decisions were made,” Rachael Thornton, Education Officer for NUSU said. “I feel the results are quite telling of the population of students we have, and that they’re not voting for something which would mean segregation of just international students.”

A total of 1,528 students participated in the referendum. 21% of the international students on campus participated in the referendum, while only 7% of postgraduate students turned out to vote.

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