For online exams, higher education institutions sometimes make use of surveillance software. They can then watch what the student is doing on the computer in his/her room.
It emerged recently that there was a leak in a frequently-used program, Proctorio. This made it easy for hackers to access students’ sensitive data. GroenLinks and SP submitted written questions about it.
Dijkgraaf says that nine universities are using this program. The exact number of universities of applied sciences that do so is not known, but roughly half of them sometimes use proctoring for interim exams.
The minister’s answers make it clear that he does not want to intervene. “It is the responsibility of higher education institutions to ensure that privacy is in good order. Higher education institutions are not accountable for it to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.”
And as far as he is concerned, participation bodies do not need to play a bigger role in the decision to use such software. “Participation bodies do not have a statutory right of consent with regard to fraud prevention”, he explains. “There is no plan to make any legislative changes in that respect.”
But it can always be discussed. “I urge students and educational institutions to carry on discussing this issue regularly”, says Dijkgraaf. His ministry is also continuing to discuss this matter with higher education institutions.
Dijkgraaf understands why the software is being used. “During the coronavirus crisis it has become harder for educational institutions to organise interim exams on site”, he says. “In some cases, educational institutions need to use proctoring software to guarantee students’ academic progress.”
And that leak in Proctorio? “If the software turned out retrospectively to be not secure, I regard that as undesirable”, he writes. “Educational institutions need to discuss the matter with the software supplier, so that the software is better protected.”
As far as the Ministry of Education knows, no student data was stolen as a result of the leak. It was apparently fixed within one week.