A college in Hunan Province has introduced fingerprint scanners in a bid to discourage students from playing truant.
Meiya College of International Studies at Hunan University, spent 250,000 yuan (US$32,370) in October to have the machines installed in each of its 30-plus classrooms.
Students are now required to "check in" to each class by pressing their thumbs against the scanner. The machines are connected to a central computer and information on who is and is not present in each class is then relayed back to the respective teachers.
In the future, the information will also be sent to parents.
The college said that the equipment provides an effective way of measuring attendance, which has risen to 95 percent since its introduction.
Hou Lichen, dean of the college, said that in the past, teachers would record attendances by taking registers. However, these were very time consuming and easy to cheat.
The new equipment also helps ensure students' security by keeping a track of them, he said.
However, not all students are happy with the new system.
Gu Yifan, a first-year, said she would never skip class, regardless of whether there was a machine or not.
"We are adults. Is it really necessary to control us in this way?" she said. "It is also a lot of bother to have to provide our fingerprints several times a day."
Other students said they feared the fingerprint data would be leaked out of the college and used for other purposes.
(China Daily April 24, 2007)