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Student Action Bristol calls for boycott of Check-In app

The student organisation has denounced the app as 'invasive, infantilising and controlling' and an example of the university's 'complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people'.

By Roya Shahidi, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The student organisation has denounced the app as 'invasive, infantilising and controlling' and an example of the university's 'complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people' due to the app being developed by an Israeli company.

Student Action Bristol, a left-wing UoB action group, wrote an open letter on Tuesday, calling for a boycott of the university's Check-In app.

The Check-In app was introduced on January 22nd this year and requires all students to record their attendance online.

Student Action Bristol expresses concern at the app's use of live location to track attendance and the fact that the app developer, Ex Libris, is an Israeli company.

The open letter lists three key demands for the university:

1) To call out government policies and use its power to stand up for our freedoms.
2) To provide clarity on how attendance impacts decisions on extension and EC (exceptional circumstances) requests.
3) To desist from using the Check-In app; to comply with ‘Boycott, Divest, Sanctions’ and undertake a genuine assessment of its material position as a beneficiary of colonialism.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement 'urges nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law'.

The group has advised international students not to boycott the app as it may put their visas at risk.

In order to enrol international students, the University of Bristol must comply with the requirements set by United Kingdom Visa and Immigration (UKVI).

UKVI requires Tier 4 visa holders to regularly attend their in-person academic activities. It can request universities to view the attendance of a student.

Student Action Bristol addressed this legislation in the letter: 'We recognise this comes from the new government measures which require UK universities [to monitor attendance]. However, we expect our university to fight for our freedoms rather than submit to oppressive government demands.'

The open letter concludes: 'This university's use of the check-in app is a violation of our freedoms and privacy, complicity in the genocide of Palestinians and a contribution to the UK’s inhuman border regime.'

Image courtesy of Dan Hutton and Amelia Jacob

A University spokesperson said: 'It’s important that we register attendance at lectures and seminars. Checking in to classes is one of several ways we can monitor how students are engaging with their studies and if they are not attending, we may contact them to understand why, and offer support if appropriate.

'We’ve always registered attendance and in the past this has included physical or online registers, and UCard swipes. In addition, UK Visas and Immigration requires that students sponsored by universities have engagement with their studies monitored and reported to enable their visa sponsorship to continue.

'The check-in app was introduced at the start of this academic year and is a simple way for students to let us know they are attending their classes. The location of the device is only recorded at the time the check-in button is pressed. It is not recorded at other times and the app does not track students’ locations.

'Bristol joins several other universities who are already using this student-led approach to capturing attendance. The use of the app, and the decision to use this particular platform, was fully assessed by the University. The data collected is minimised to satisfy attendance purposes only. The University is not collecting data or using the app in a way that makes the data accessible to third parties.'

Featured image of Student Action Bristol's pro-Palestine protest outside Senate House / Student Action Bristol Instagram

What do you think about the university's Check-In app?