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On Tuesday 6 January, Union Council met and voted to call a referendum. You can read the original motion here. Voting took place between 1-6 March with 3,573 votes counted. The amended referendum questions and results are: 

  1. Should UCL prevent students who attend less than 70% of teaching from taking part in assessment?
    Yes: 344
    No: 3,156 

    Abstentions: 73
  2. Should UCL monitor the attendance of all students in order to enforce this requirement?
    Yes: 402
    No: 3,059 

    Abstentions: 112 


What’s this Referendum About?

UCL believe we should continue to have a minimum 70% attendance requirement for students, and are consulting on whether we should put in place electronic systems that allow attendance to be more easily monitored.

The Union’s elected officers have been asked to weigh in on these proposals, and feel quite strongly that these proposals are wrong. They have called this referendum because they recognise there will be a variety of views on this topic, and want to be sure they are speaking for students on this issue.

Your vote will let us establish whether there is a particular view amongst UCL’s students, and how we should proceed as a Union in opposing or supporting this bit of UCL’s work.

Why are UCL doing this?

UCL believe that the attendance requirement ensures students engage in learning to meet their degree outcomes, and also that this helps to monitor and support student wellbeing.

Purchasing of an electronic engagement monitoring system would reduce staff time spent manually monitoring attendance, and make the monitoring of overseas students’ engagement with their study (which UK Visas and Immigration require universities to demonstrate) substantially more efficient.

UCL believe that a system would enable them to collect valuable information about students, and match this to other information, in order to gain insight and improve students’ educational experiences. Attendance data could also be provided to Personal Tutors in order that staff could note a sudden change in attendance patterns and enquire about students’ wellbeing.

Why have the Union opposed this work so far?

The Union believe that the attendance requirement treats students like children, and that the level of attendance should be up to each individual student. If a student has not attended 70% of classes, it should still be up to them whether they wish to be assessed. In practice, the current attendance requirement is not enforced everywhere in UCL, so a new UCL-wide system would drag students into the attendance requirement for the first time.

Additionally, the Union believe that the benefits of developing a system of monitoring attendance would not materialise, and would pull resources away from other importance investments such as lecturecast, which has still not been fully implemented despite launching in 2014.

Lastly, the Union believes that many students will find their attendance being carefully monitored in this way troubling, particularly amongst students groups such as Muslim students, many of whom are already wary of the governments’ Prevent programme.