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The University of Glasgow installed surveillance equipment under postgraduate desks

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Last week, students at the University of Glasgow expressed concern over surveillance equipment being installed under desks in postgraduate study spaces. 

The university confirmed that a small number of monitors were fitted to desks in two parts of the university - the School of Social and Political Sciences and the School of Business - as part of a study to understand how and when people used different spaces to inform planning for future campus development.

In a statement they said: "The monitors recorded only that a space was occupied and did not gather additional or personal information.

"Although colleagues were advised in advance that the study was going to take place and it was wholly anonymous, some students expressed concerns and the monitors have now been or are in the process of being removed."

PhD student Karen Cuthbert explained that the device was found after receiving an email that it would be happening. 

"Were not advised in advance and the study spaces are personally assigned desks in locked offices of doctoral researchers.

"I teach research ethics to undergrads at this university. I'll be using this as a case study of when ethical principles are egregiously violated."

The university apologised to those who were not given sufficient warning and responded to claims of "violation of ethical principles” by confirming that the "study was reviewed by the appropriate ethics group and College." 

The same surveillance equipment was installed at Birkbeck, University of London's library in 2014 in order to eliminate students' complaints about insufficient study spaces. 

Birkbeck Library Assistant Director Peter Williams tweeted: "Birkbeck Library uses monitors to manage a shared library space and takes no personal data." 




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