UCL introduces new attendance system

The way UCL records student attendance is changing. Find out how the new system will work and how it will help us to support all our students

At the start of the next Academic Year (2020-21) UCL will be introducing a single unified electronic system for recording attendance.

At the moment, UCL faculties and departments have lots of different ways of recording attendance at lectures, seminars, lab sessions and other teaching and learning events. In some cases, staff maintain paper records of attendance, while others have their own local electronic solutions.

One of the benefits of the new system is that, for the first time, all students will have access to their attendance data.

The future system

New software will allow students to be in control of recording their attendance by tapping in to lectures, seminars and other learning events. You’ll use your student ID card to tap a card reader, similar to how you use an Oyster card on London’s public transport.

Key features

  • Tapping in - Card readers will be fitted in all teaching spaces. This will make it easier and faster to record attendance, reducing both paper waste and the chance of errors.
  • Student dashboards - Students will be able to see their own attendance figures in a handy online dashboard.
  • For our international students on a student visa, we will have a comprehensive system to ensure that we can meet our obligations as your study sponsor in an efficient and equitable way.

Academic staff, teaching administrators and Student Registry Services will have access to the attendance data. The system will fully comply with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). For more information, please take a look at our Student Attendance FAQs.

Why are we introducing a new system?

The new attendance system will ensure we comply with our statutory reporting requirements, such as those to the Home Office for our students on a Tier 4 visa. We have collaborated with the Students’ Union to ensure that the process is as light touch for students as possible.

Beyond simplifying the process of recording attendance, the new attendance system will be used to identify students who may be struggling early on. We know that attendance is a good indicator of a student’s engagement and when students stop engaging with their studies, this might be an indicator of poor mental health or other wellbeing concerns. Also, we know that there is a correlation with students’ engagement with their programmes and their overall success.

Patterns of attendance will help academic departments and UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to be proactive in offering support to those whose engagement has fallen and who may be in need.

The new system is just one of the ways we are investing in student support and we recognise that students with high levels of attendance may also be struggling. To ensure you have quick and easy access to the support you need when you need it, whatever it is you are facing, we have expanded our team of Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisers and Psychological Therapists. Last year we also launched a Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The Strategy is strongly supported by UCL’s senior leadership. It fosters a whole-university approach to promoting and supporting good health and wellbeing as the foundation for your academic success and great experience at UCL.

Attendance Requirements

We encourage our students to attend all teaching events for the best chance of academic success.

While UCL’s current academic regulations stipulates 70% attendance, this is something we plan to remove for the next Academic Year.

We are still considering what will replace this and will update you as soon as a new policy has been agreed. Regardless of changes made, some students will still be required to meet certain thresholds (e.g. if you have a Learning Agreement in place or are studying for a professional qualification that has attendance requirements. In addition, Tier 4 students are required by UK Visa & Immigration to maintain attendance levels in person at their teaching events. Individual circumstances and recommendations in a student’s Statement of Reasonable Adjustment (SORA) will be taken into account.

Next steps?

Some departments across UCL have already started manually recording student attendance on the new system, as part of a pilot. We will be working closely with students in these pilot departments to test and shape the Student Dashboard before it is rolled out further. All faculties and departments will be using the new system by the start of the next Academic Year.

You may notice card readers appearing in teaching spaces across UCL as these are starting to be installed. You won’t need to use them until instructed to do so by your department. More information will be share ahead of the next Academic Year. For more information and FAQs, please visit our student attendance webpage.