The University of Newcastle, Australia

Compulsory attendance in 2020

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

From Semester 1 2020, we are introducing a compulsory 80% attendance requirement at small group tutorials, laboratory sessions and seminars for all first year students in 1000 level courses. Lectures and online learning sessions are NOT included. This applies to Callaghan, Ourimbah and Newcastle City campuses.

Students in a small group session

Many courses already have minimum attendance requirements, so this levels the playing field for all.

This decision is evidence-based and about getting the best outcomes for our students. There are well documented links between high attendance and student success. Students benefit from the exchange of knowledge and ideas that small group sessions provide, as well as the experience of collaborating and communicating with peers.

Having a better understanding of who is attending classes will help teaching staff to more quickly identify students who may be struggling to make class or need additional assistance.

We’re using ExLibris’ internationally-used Campus M software as a trial in our 2020 Summer 2 Term. The software connects to our timetabling system and a mobile app uses geolocation to confirm that the student is in the location of the scheduled class. The app only records a student’s location at the time of checking in to a class. It does not track movement outside of the classroom.

When the new process starts in Semester 1, students will have the option of using the app to check in using geolocation or going directly to the class teacher who will sign them in (ie. so the student doesn’t need to use their own device). This method does not record a location.

The Summer 2 Term trial is an important way for us to get feedback from our students about the technology and process. Participation in the trial is optional.

Details of the attendance requirement are included in the 2020 terms and conditions of enrolment and the app contains a statement outlining our obligations to privacy. The University’s Privacy Management Plan ensures all information captured in the roll out of the compulsory attendance policy will be confidentially managed in accordance with NSW Privacy Laws, and will be securely held and used only for the purposes as outlined in the 2020 terms and conditions of enrolment. This information will form part of the student’s record. No attendance records will be kept during the Summer 2 Term trial.

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