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Recorded lectures; students do it themselves

MAASTRICHT. Policies concerning whether filming of lectures is or should be allowed or not, are unclear. In the meantime, students themselves have been recording lectures. Sometimes even distributing them.

There is no central policy regarding the filming of lectures, that much is clear. Every faculty deals with the problem in its own way, although students across the university are asking for it. Rector Rianne Letschert, in this position since September, had the situation investigated and discovered that the last time it was discussed at a ‘central’ level was April 2016; at that time, the ‘education platform’, a meeting place for education managers from the faculties, confirmed again that the Executive board did not need to be involved with this. “It was thought to be too soon and lecturers had to be given the time to experiment,” Letschert recently said, with a somewhat helpless gesture, to the members of the committee for education and research in the University Council.

In the same committee, however, it appeared that reality has already caught up with the policy makers: apparently, students often record the lectures themselves. Student council member (Dope) Chris Sauer understands this: “If the faculty doesn't organise it, then the students will do it themselves.”

He clarifies this later on when asked: “It was already happening three years ago in the bachelor's of Medicine, usually with an iPad or iPhone, sometimes just audio recordings with mobile phones. As far as I understand, most students use it as an aid for exams. Sometimes the files are shared within a circle of friends, using Dropbox and similar services.”

Leonard Nijman, currently third-year student of Medicine, confirms this: it is still happening.

This need not be good news for lecturers, as appeared during the committee meeting. Chairperson Roberta Haar, lecturer at University College: “Lecturers aren't always aware that students are recording their lectures with a smartphone or laptop. I would like to be asked first. But it is most likely already taking place.” Rector Letschert, jurist and victimologist by profession, says that she regularly referred to refugees in her lectures: “That kind of material must not be made public, there are rules regarding this subject.”

The question is therefore what should the university do. Rector Letschert could do no more than promise that she will bring up the subject and again draw up an inventory of what has happened with the matter since April. The fact that something must be done, is obvious. Student council member Jurgen van Heertum (Novum): “If students are already making recordings, then you would do well to sort the matter out properly.” Sauer is an advocate of officially filmed lectures: “It is helpful if you were absent, you obtain more flexibility in your schedule. I think it would be childish if the UM were to block it.”

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