iLancaster: we’re not watching you

SCAN reports on the ups and downs of iLancaster's first week tracking attendance.

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In the latest symptom of iLancaster’s teething problems, the University of Lancaster has declared a one-week amnesty for attendance at the start of first term. The news comes as an exclusive SCAN News social media poll shows that a clear majority of students believe the rollout to have been unsuccessful.

This means poor and high attendance rates will be counted at the same level, which is good news for the thousands of Lancaster students who have spent the week battling with either freshers flu or the consequences of being introduced to student nightlife.

The new system of location-based check in through the iLancaster app has been attacked by the student media and described by anonymous academic staff as “an awful imposition”.

But now it is the effectiveness of the system that has been called into question, with reports of lectures of hundreds having twenty successful sign ins.

One week into the launch of iLancaster’s new attendance tracking system, the balance of student opinion is overwhelmingly that the rollout of the new attendance system has been unsuccessful.

In an exclusive SCAN News poll on social media, an astonishing 92% of those surveyed disagree that the rollout of iLancaster’s new attendance checker had been successful.

8% agreed that it had been successful, suggesting that a small minority of students are satisfied with the system as currently constituted. This could well be down the variations in effectiveness depending on which room trying to register in at the time.

The poll is entirely unscientific and due to the small sample size has a 6% margin of error at a 99% confidence interval. However this is enough to declare that a clear majority of social media using Lancaster students believe the rollout to be unsuccessful.

In theory, the new system has no distinction between the traditionally compulsory seminars and the formerly more optional lectures.

Last month, head of the registry Ian Denny explained in conversation with SCAN that the new system is necessary to ensure students who are struggling with attendance are identified before the problem gets worse.

“The way that the university has previously checked data is obviously on paper, registers, somebody has to go into the room to sign people in. It’s very labour intensive.”

However the new scheme, which was partially implemented to satisfy Home Office requirements to track the attendance of international students, has been described as “orwellian” by academic staff, while students writing in SCAN have described it as “like something out of Black Mirror” (a dystopian television series).

Ian Denny has made the case that the measures are “the safest possible under our requirements.”

“The home office sets thresholds of expected attendance. So what we’ve done is separated out the reporting mechanisms for Tier Four students (from everybody else).”

It remains to be seen if this amnesty will end up being extended to a second week, or if the iLancaster attendance system will survive to another term.

SCAN understands that the department responsible has produced an information video about what not to worry about with the new check in system, but has yet to release it.