Students caned for online attacks on lecturers

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Edinburgh students are among those warned to keep online rants about big issues

SCOTTISH universities are monitoring students’ use of Facebook and Twitter and cracking down hard on those who criticise lecturers.

Students have been severely disciplined and forced to write letters of apology after attacking staff and classmates on the social media sites.

Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, has disciplined five students over the past two years for inappropriate use of Facebook.

One student was forced to repeat work and write a “reflective account” of their conduct.

Glasgow Caledonian University severely reprimanded a student who posted three messages online using abusive language towards a fellow student.

The culprit was told to write a letter of apology and sign a formal undertaking not to repeat the incident.

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and the University of the West of Scotland also recorded Facebook-related cases in the past two years.

Strathclyde admitted it “does monitor postings on social networking sites and a few students have received warnings at departmental level”.

Abertay, Dundee, said a student was severely reprimanded and ordered to make a written apology after making “derogatory” comments about staff.

The details, released under Freedom of Information legislation, led to a warning today from student leaders.

Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students Scotland, said: “Like all methods of communication there is clearly a line that should not be crossed when it comes to speaking their mind.

“It is one thing to express a strong view on a university setting £9,000 fees for their friends from the rest of the UK, and quite another to use Twitter or Facebook to launch offensive attacks on lecturers or classmates, races or religions.”

Matt McPherson, president of the Edinburgh University Students’ Association, said: “People are well aware of the power of the internet, but we’re facing a transition to a place where people get used to the fact that everything we say online is recorded and can’t be deleted.”

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