Letter to the community regarding Proctorio

July 03, 2020

Like most universities across the world, UBC is adapting to address the requirements of online teaching and learning, and adopting new tools and practices at scale to assist with that challenging transition: Proctorio is just one of those tools.

UBC’s use of Proctorio was authorized by the university several years ago after a detailed and thorough privacy impact assessment, which you can review here. This privacy impact assessment was reviewed earlier this year as COVID-19 developed. You’ll see that our privacy and security specialists evaluated Proctorio against the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the standards detailed in UBC’s Information Systems Policy. It is important to keep in mind that Proctorio does not have access to any of the session recordings and does not know the identities of the students who use the system (unless those students choose to share that information).

UBC is aware of recent concerns raised by some students, faculty and staff regarding Proctorio, particularly in regards to accessibility and student privacy, and we take them very seriously.

In regards to the recent incident where a student posted an incomplete and misleading version of an interaction with Proctorio and Proctorio subsequently posted more of the chat log, we are disappointed by the way that conversation played out in a public way online. The combative tone of the conversation was regrettable. However, after a careful review, we are confident that Proctorio did not reveal any personal information of the student and that no privacy breach occurred.

Specifically, Proctorio did not have access to any identifying information from the student in the chat logs: these logs are stored without identifying personal information. They were only able to locate that specific chat log in their records by searching using the phrases the student had already posted on social media. When Proctorio posted more of the chat online, they only posted words from their agent’s side of the chat and redacted the words of the student in the log (except for the words from the chat the student had already posted).

We understand that online learning presents a variety of accessibility challenges for students at UBC and around the world, including the use of proctoring tools such as Proctorio. Students who require an accommodation because of a disability should reach out to the Centre for Accessibility (Vancouver) or Disability Resource Centre (Okanagan) to see if they are eligible for academic accommodations. Those who require technical assistance can contact the Learning Technology Hub. Those students who may require additional equipment should contact their enrolment services advisor. Students can also reach out to their instructors or their Faculty advising offices, and review the resources available on the Keep Learning website.

Since March we have worked with our faculty to encourage flexible approaches to online course design and assessment methods, and we continue to do so. We’re grateful to faculty and graduate students for all of their very hard work to pivot so quickly, at a time of disruption and for their work to ensure our students have access to the best possible learning environment. We’re grateful to students for their adaptability and commitment as well.

In some instances, use of Proctorio is optional and decided by individual instructors. Faculty members have the ability (or academic freedom) to consider how exam invigilation is conducted, or to redesign final assessments so as to uphold academic integrity while also fulfilling course learning objectives. In other instances, in programs with accreditation requirements, invigilation is required by the accrediting body. In either case, tools to support online exam invigilation will continue to be an option we make available to faculty members to safeguard academic integrity.

We understand this is a challenging time for our students, many of whom are new to learning online, and we know these are complex issues that are emerging. UBC remains committed to continuing the conversation about assessment methods including remote invigilation with our students and faculty as we all seek to enhance course design approaches.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Simon Bates
Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning

Paul Hancock
Legal Counsel, Information and Privacy


  • Academic Community