By CLA Director Eloise McLean*
The Australian National University is currently facing strong backlash from students over the proposed use of a digital platform to invigilate exams remotely.
The ANU recently announced plans to implement Proctorio software to “ensure the legitimacy of exams conducted away from campus” during the COVID-19 crisis.
Students have expressed outrage that their protests and structured campaign have been largely ignored by the ANU, and that the university is planning to go ahead with no legitimate intention of hearing students out. With massive cuts on the horizon at all universities due to the funding crisis in the sector, it’s a sad precedent that ANU is setting – that management can just make massively unpopular decisions and students, at one of the most prestigious universities in Australia, don’t get any say.
Students are taking virtual action against the ANU Administration’s decisions over the coming weeks. The following statement was recently adopted by the “No Proctorio at ANU” campaign.
We are against any use of Proctorio, for the following reasons:
- Use of Proctorio is an incursion on the rights of students, as it films and records us in our homes, analyses our facial, eye and body movements to determine if we are “suspicious”, monitors our typing, takes command of aspects of our computers, and requires that our homes and personal computers become subject to the scrutiny of the exam invigilator.
- Use of Proctorio poses risks to students, we’re made to install something which collects very personal information (such as footage of us). Given ANU’s history of data breaches, scenarios where the information is being held by ANU or by a third party both risk students’ information. We do not want to give access to our computers to Proctorio, it’s unreasonable to expect we risk compromising our computers’ security in this way.
- Use of Proctorio is even more unfair to some students – any student without reliable internet or the required hardware, students with disabilities, students with families or sharehouses, will all be disadvantaged by the invasive online proctoring done by Proctorio.
- We condemn the failure of ANU to seriously engage with the concerns students have raised regarding accessibility and inclusion. We also reject the “solution” proposed by ANU that students without access to necessary hardware simply apply for emergency financial grants in order to purchase it.
- We demand that the university cease any plans for the use of Proctorio, or any similarly invasive method, and instead provide options for students such as open book exams, new assessments, cancellation of exams, etc, all of which should only be adopted with the agreement of the students set to sit these exams.
- No university workers should be disadvantaged in this. Some alternate assessment methods will require more work, and the staff members involved should be paid for any extra time required, and if necessary extra staff be retained to assist. Universities Australia have flagged 21,000 job losses in the sector, and severe cuts to conditions. We stand with the workers at ANU against job losses or reductions in conditions. ANU should not use online proctoring to disadvantage staff, and transition to alternative methods should not require that existing staff do unpaid work or be overworked.
If you are against the implementation of the invasive and ultimately unnecessary use of Proctorio at the ANU or other educational institutions, you can support the student campaign by signing the petition: https://www.change.org/p/australian-national-university-tell-anu-students-say-no-to-proctorio
* Elly McLean is Elly is undertaking dual Law and Finance degrees. Her school, public speaking and debating captain roles and sporting, community and UN Youth work led to a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, the THAC ADF Teamwork and Leadership Award, and Victorian S-W Young Citizen of the Year. With dux proxima of her high school in Hamilton and a premier’s award for a perfect score in VCE English, she won the Phillipa Weeks Law and George Alexander Foundation scholarships to ANU. She has been on the Law Social Justice sub-committee and played WAFL for the university. Elly’s passion is youth engagement in politics and justice, and her continuing Chinese studies are aimed at working in diplomacy and trade, including adoption law.