Foreword by Frank Bakema

Data use is a subject in its own right

Although the current batch of students belong to the generation of digital natives, privacy is a relatively neglected topic even for them. And yet privacy is more relevant than ever — especially in a world where research and education have been forced to move online almost entirely from the office and lecture hall.

As the Education & Student Affairs Manager, I feel it is important for students to learn about the safe use of data early on in their degree programme. It is important to have a good grounding in the basics before you start on projects or an internship. Last November, we put it to the test with 19 students during what we call a ‘student journey’. In the run-up to the lecture, we looked at all the information we could find about them in public sources. That turned out to be rather a lot, from the friends who they were in contact with a lot to even more personal information. The students were really shocked, of course, but our investigation was spot on in terms of raising awareness.

Make sure you don’t leave data lying around and never accept all cookies blindly

Working and studying online clearly raises major questions and challenges, including data usage issues, the subject of this student issue of WUR Is Serious About Data. In this online magazine produced by Wageningen University & Research, we look at the need for due care and secure practices when using the enormous quantities of data that get processed at a university like ours. There is plenty of attention for these topics again in this issue: from a well-coordinated phishing attack on student mailboxes to the privacy implications of online exams.

My golden tip for anyone concerned about privacy is to make sure you don’t leave data lying around and never accept all cookies blindly — just the ones that are strictly necessary.

Enjoy the magazine! Frank Bakema

Photo: Guy Ackermans

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