When students miss class they miss out on vital information that is essential to their learning, such as important details regarding assignments, potential syllabus changes, the chance to ask questions – the list goes on. Not to mention the missed opportunity for a deeper understanding of a topic. The instructor also suffers, as they do not gain a true understanding of whether or not their course content is being taught effectively, or if there are elements they need to review – as not every student is in class to give feedback.

Learning is an investment of time and energy that only the students can bring to the table. If they do not come to class, they are effectively setting themselves up to fail by not participating in their own education. With increasing external pressure from the Home Office and the SLC (Student Loans Company) for universities to monitor student attendance, many institutions are exploring options in how to track individual attendance and increase student engagement.

Research has shown that regular attendance and academic achievement are closely linked, and many universities find that by monitoring student attendance they are able to identify students who need support at an early stage and put in place measures to help them continue their studies. It is a fact that an engaged student performs better – however attendance monitoring and associated reporting can be an administrative burden for universities, particularly those who have a large proportion of overseas students.

In utilising Student Response Systems (SRS), universities can track attendance and engagement without the administrative burden, at the click of a button. Many SRS seamlessly integrate with campus Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard and Moodle to build a clear picture over time of individual student attendance and engagement. In utilising SRS, instructors know with confidence whether or not lesson materials are being understood by students, and attendance can be tracked across semesters not just in single classes, throughout multiple locations, thus making the software suitable for overseas students. With SRS, there are response options for every type of learning environment, including mobile, accessibility and hardware response options and students are able to respond with their own mobile devices, or hardware response devices, if Wi-Fi is limited.

Higher education is about independent learning, and students have the right to manage their own time however they wish, even if this means missing classes. It is arguably an important rite of passage for students to have freedom and flexibility during their university years, particularly given the amount they are now paying for their education. However, a laid-back approach to attendance damages the students’ education, the university itself and those set to teach. In tracking attendance, the university will help to strengthen the sense of academic community that is so vital to universities – particularly in fields where there is an emphasis on sharing ideas. Giving instructors the ability to easily track attendance helps to keep students engaged, minimise drop out and increase student success.