In previous blogs I looked at why HEIs are looking more closely at Attendance Monitoring and what they are doing to improve retention.  Now let’s consider the practical solutions.

If a technical solution is adopted, it has to be decided whether what is being measured is the presence of a card or the presence of a person.  If the former, “buddy tapping” can be a problem, as students register their absent friends (although the fact that a student has asked a friend to register them could be evidence of continued engagement).  Biometric solutions have been introduced at some UK HEIs without major objections.  After all, many students arrive at university having previously been accustomed to finger scanning to obtain their school meals.  On the other hand, this requires an extra step in the enrolment process, and tests have shown that it takes students a little longer to learn how to present their fingers for a quick scan – but this improves over a period of a few weeks.

Whatever, it is obviously desirable to ensure the requirement to register up to 300 students in a lecture theatre doesn’t take several minutes out of the teaching time available.  And even if they do register at the start, how do you know they stayed for the lecture?

There isn’t a “one size fits all solution” – the answer needs to be practical, scalable, and unobtrusive.  Roehampton University believed it was preferable to conduct a pilot before committing to a full solution, in order to test:

–      Student and staff feedback

–      Time requirement for enrolment and registration

–      Ease of implementation and the robustness/reliability of the technology

–      Accuracy and consistency of data

–      Efficient record keeping and reporting of student attendance data

–      Ability to identify students who may need additional support early

–      Reduction in staff time, resource and cost for handling data

–      Increased time available to analyse and use the data to support students

–      Efficient attendance monitoring process for international students

Nigel Smith at Nottingham Trent University reckons that 32 UK HEIs are doing Attendance Monitoring – I wonder what the rest are doing to address these growing issues.  In future blogs I will address the issues of enhanced student success that can come from better attendance monitoring, and the financial impact of the UK’s new university funding regime on retention.


Fenbrook Consulting advises Higher Educat6ion Institutions on the business and technical aspects of campus card systems

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