Privacy concerns have been raised over a University of Newcastle plan to track student attendance using mobile phones.

The University of Newcastle (UON) says it will soon start using digital location records “and any other information … including personally identifiable information” to track attendance.

UON requires students attend at least 80 per cent of their classes to pass. Under the new scheme, they will have to check-in to class on a mobile phone app.

The university has a system of beacons and geolocation services that it will use to verify students are actually in the classroom.

Students can opt-out, but they must then manually sign in with the academic running the class.

The University's Pro-Vice Chancellor, Liz Burd, says the increased surveillance will help students’ grades.

“We're using it for student support so we'll be able to see if a student is dropping off and not able to do their studies, to be more proactive about the support mechanisms that we put in place,” she said.

UON student union education officer Luka Harrison said; “It’s a gross invasion of privacy on the part of the uni against the students and it points to a growing trend of the corporatisation of unis all around Australia”.

Experts say the use of data tracking on university campuses is increasing globally.