College students are increasingly concerned about data privacy and whether colleges and educational technology companies are doing enough to safeguard their personal information, according to a new report from the Future of Privacy Forum released Tuesday.
Students reported they were particularly worried about the security of information related to their academic and professional prospects, according to the report, entitled “Higher Education Voices: College Students’ Expectations and Attitudes Toward Data Privacy in Higher Ed.”
“College students’ attitudes toward data privacy will shape how colleges and universities incorporate technology into the classroom, and, in turn, these college graduates will also carry new and different expectations for privacy in a workplace setting,” FPF policy counsel Juliana Cotto said. “But there’s still a lot to learn -- the use of technology in higher education is changing at an unprecedented pace, and both students and practitioners are scrambling to keep up.”
Among the questions many students worried about: how unchangeable identifiers, such as biometric information, are guarded by colleges, and whether universities or the government are better suited to protect their data than education technology companies.
FPF, a nonprofit focused on privacy leadership and scholarship, particularly around emerging technologies, recommends that higher education institutions offer more data privacy, ethics and literacy courses to encourage students to better understand how their data are collected and used.
The organization also recommend that higher education institutions and technology companies do more to accurately communicate how and why they collect, use and share students’ data. FPF argues that colleges need to limit the data they collect on students as much as possible while also convening town halls and other public forums to explain data privacy to students proactively.
Finally, FPF asserts that scholars should do more to understand students’ attitudes and expectations. A public opinion poll on data privacy concerns with subgroup data reported by age would be particularly valuable, they argue.