Student news wrap 03/08/18

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A look at what’s been happening to and for students around the world.

Mexico’s National University admits 12-year-old student

Mexico’s National Autonomous University ( better known as the UNAM) says it has admitted a 12-year-old student to its undergraduate degree program in biomedical physics.

Carlos Santamaria Diaz is the youngest student to be accepted in the university’s nearly 100 year history. When he was just nine years old, he participated in university programs in analytical chemistry, biochemistry and biology. He has passed the entrance exam and has already done preparatory study at the university’s school of chemistry in its genetics sciences center. The university has stated that there would be no special privileges or benefits and that he would be treated like any other student – Read the story on the Associated Press site.

Chinese campuses use facial recognition software as a ‘security measure’

As more and more Chinese universities opt to use facial recognition software to improve security, concerns are growing that it is being used to monitor students and teachers. For now one of the main reasons for campus facial recognition is to spot ‘ghost writers’ trying to sit exams for other students.

Facial scanning equipment has been installed in about a quarter of the 38,000 college entrance exam sites in Jiangsu province ahead of the June exam (gaokao) which will be used to cross-reference a scanned image with the student’s identity card image and photograph, which were filed with the student’s gaokao application.

In a trial that that started in June, Beijing’s Peking University began screening students by using a camera to scan their faces to see if the technology can replace the use of university identity cards. Facial recognition devices have already been installed outside the university’s libraries, classrooms, student accommodation, sports facilities and computer centres.

Tsinghua University has taken it further and uses facial recognition for all visitors. Registration via China’s WeChat messaging platform is required; the person registering  uses a mobile phone app to scan their face and has to supply national identity card details. Those who do not provide details in advance may not be permitted to enter the grounds.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, stated that it was not entirely clear what happens to all of the data being collected. “Campuses are of particular interest given that they are seen as ‘hotbeds of radicalism’”.  She noted that the state has an obligation to provide public security, “so if it is not just about greater surveillance, it can be defensible, but I’m not sure that there is a legitimate, credible public security threat that warrants that kind of response on a university campus,” she said, noting that crime on Chinese campuses is very low. – Read more on this story on the University World News site