The Saint has learned that the School of International Relations is directly opposed to introducing new lecture capture technology.
Lecture capture, which was proposed by the University and recently endorsed by the Students’ Association, would allow students to view recorded lectures online at their convenience.
As it stands, the proposal would implement lecture capture across the University’s schools. Currently, schools that employ the technology include the School of Medicine and the School of Computer Science.
An international relations class representative, who did not wish to be named due to academic concerns, said, “During a staff-student consulting committee meeting, senior staff members within the School of International Relations expressed that they were not feeling confident about the use of video-captured university lectures.
“If the university was to implement this policy as compulsory, the school would actively fight it.”
The St Andrews School of International Relations has asserted itself as one of the most successful and influential in the world.
In its 2017 university guide, The Guardian rated St Andrews as the number one UK university for those studying politics.
The School of International Relations is one of the largest at the University. On average, more than 600 students per semester are enrolled in sub-honours lectures.
The class representative asserted, however, school officials thought that “due to the controversial nature of international relations, lecturers may at some point express their political opinions during a lecture, and this may have a detrimental influence upon their career or public image.”
A separate postgraduate class representative also told The Saint they had personal concerns about who would hold the copyright of recorded lectures.
A University spokesperson responded to these developments, saying, “University policy on use of lecture capture (LC) has not yet been finally established; it will be discussed again at a future [Learning and Teaching] L&T Committee this year, with input from student reps (DoRep and PG convenor) who are full members of the committee.
“However, following discussion that has already taken place at both LTC and Academic Council, the intention is for the scheme to be opt-in, so some individuals in some schools will take part; others won’t.”
The class representative who originally informed The Saint of the School of International Relations’ views also offered their own opinion on the debate.
“I feel that the lecture capture policy will definitely help students,” the representative said. “As a university that aspires to be the top in its field, they should go with the students’ wishes and follow in the footsteps of many other high-achieving institutions.”
According to a 2016 survey by the Heads of e-Learning Forum, 77 out of 94 UK institutions responding to the review were already using lecture capture solutions.
Yet the class representative said they also saw the downsides of lecture capture, adding, “I do understand some of the arguments raised by the department against the policy. Because I believe that debate should be encouraged around this topic, I would like students to express their own opinion on the matter. After all, student representation is undoubtedly fundamental to student interests.”
Director of Representation Jack Carr proposed a motion supporting lecture capture technology at a joint meeting of the Students’ Representative Council and Student Services Council on Tuesday 14 February. The SRC agreed with the motion on the understanding that greater implementation of technology is necessary to remain relevant in the higher education sector.
The SRC agenda stated, “We do not believe that students will censor their academic ideas or discussions as a consequence of being recorded.
Indeed we recognise that the only people who can access such recordings are people who would have potentially heard the material regardless. We believe that opt-out clauses are a sufficient protection for students who may have reason to not be recorded.” During the Joint Councils’ meeting, Mr Carr expressed his hopes for the quick implementation of lecture capture technology.
He said, “I hope very much that it shall pass through Academic Council in time for semester one [of the 2017- 18 academic year], and I shall do all that I can to ensure that the student voice is heard throughout the governance process.”
The Joint Councils passed the motion with little opposition.
The same University spokesperson stated, “The University is aware of the Student Representative Council policy in favour of LC and very much appreciates students’ support for this scheme.
“However, we also recognise that LC is not suitable for every kind of teaching or classroom situation and respects staff as well as student needs and wishes. Our expectation is simply that students will experience the best possible learning and teaching — we don’t prescribe how exactly that should be done, and we regard variety of approach as a good thing.”
The University spokesperson further asserted that students who had concerns or wanted to pursue discussions in any school were always welcome to use the proper channels.