Campus Cards – A New Era of Surveillance at Glasgow Uni?


We’ve surely all heard by now about the huge campus revamp set to get started towards the end of the year. For those who have been living under a rock (or in the library), Glasgow University are investing a staggering £1billion into a total makeover of our university landscape over the course of the next ten years.

Part of this massive makeover is being implemented much sooner, however, with the distribution of ‘campus cards’, which the university say will be intrinsic to the renovations. These cards will be much like the current student and staff ID cards, except that they will also be needed in order to gain entry to 20+ university buildings now. The university says that the purpose of this move is to ‘offer greater security’. They state that there will be no data stored on the card, and that ‘staff and students will be kept fully informed… if the cards will be used for any new purpose(s) in the future.’

However, despite reassurances, there has been an air of student scepticism over these changes, since news recently emerged that Glasgow University had not been entirely upfront with the student body about other aspects of the campus development.

After a PhD student discovered a mysterious black box underneath her desk in her private office, the news emerged that the university had been placing tracking devices in various places throughout campus. These devices, which detect heat and movement, were apparently placed in several postgrad offices and also under desks in the library to collect data about how much students used certain study spaces. The university claims they were collecting this information in order to aid them with the design of the new campus. They also claimed that the student body were informed of these proceedings, despite huge outcry from the student population that they knew nothing about it. One student said that they ‘felt sick’ about the unethical and somewhat invasive nature of what the uni had done.

The university have since removed all tracking devices from desks and issued an apology. However, with this ethos of secrecy around the same time of the implementation of new campus cards, it is clear to see why students may still be feeling uneasy.

[Alice Lannon]

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