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Students raise privacy fears after liberal Chinese university installs CCTV cameras in lecture halls

A leading university in southern China is installing surveillance cameras in lecture rooms throughout the campus, prompting concerns over privacy, The Beijing News reports.

A document explaining the move, issued by the vice-chancellor’s office of Sun Yat-sen University and circulated earlier this month, said the measures aimed to “refine a teaching monitoring mechanism” and “deepen education reform and improve the quality of talent training”.

Sun Yat-sen University has four campuses – two each in Guangzhou and Zhuhai – but the report did not mention which ones would be affected.

Big Brother is watching you: Chinese university sets up surveillance cameras to monitor classrooms, labs … even dormitories

The move is considered unusual as the university is regarded as more liberal than other colleges in Guangdong province.

Students also express fears of lack of privacy in posts on social media on Sunday morning.

Other students also confirmed the University had begun installing surveillance cameras in lecture theatres in parts of the campus.

Some students described the move as a double-edged sword that might raise teaching standards but at the cost of impinging on students’ privacy.

An unidentified propaganda official at the university has confirmed the decision, arguing that classrooms were public spaces and that the cameras were also necessary for monitoring examinations and boosting campus security.

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It was reported that the cameras would be pointed only at teachers, not students, and that taping would only conducted during teaching hours at the request of individual teachers who wanted their own lectures filmed, or from higher level education departments.

In 2013, Central China University in Wuhan, Hubei province was granted 4 million yuan (HK$4.6 million) from Ministry of Education to install surveillance cameras in students dormitories and activity centres. Meanwhile, it was also reported that South Central University for Nationalities, also in Wuhan, had installed surveillance cameras in each of its classrooms.