In a clip secretly filmed by a student, rows of cameras can be seen hanging from the ceiling, almost touching the desks. The quiet classroom is filled with students concentrating on their studies.

“It’s too stressful,” one student told The Paper.

The cameras point directly at the desks of the students to monitor their work. The captured images are then relayed to teachers in another room. Photo: Baidu

On March 4, a member of staff at the university confirmed there is a classroom fitted with cameras, and that they are for digital media teaching.

“These are the digital teaching devices for our calligraphy classroom, ” she said. “The cameras which are suspended from the ceiling and which the touch panels on desks are one type.”

She said the cameras are inactive during other classes, and are only used during exams to prevent students from cheating.

According to a separate news report by Qingdou News, Sun Jianhua, the vice deputy of the department where the cameras are set up, said their purpose is to allow teachers to see students’ real-time writing via a screen in the digital training room.

He said it also enables students to upload their calligraphy writing homework to the cloud, which helps teachers when marking them.

The video shows two students practicing calligraphy writing in the classroom. Next to them, the digital screens record what they were writing.

The story has sparked a debate on mainland social media.

“Is it a digital prison?” one online observer asked.

“It’s a system for multimedia teaching and recording, not for monitoring,” said a student, adding that the university he studies at has the same set up.

China has no special law that regulates the use of surveillance cameras.

However, anyone who conducts “candid filming, eavesdropping and privacy invading” with installed cameras can be fined up to 500 yuan (US$70) or be given up to 10 days detention.

Monitoring the progress of studies and behaviour, both at school and home, are not uncommon in China.

There is no special law in China to regulate the use of surveillance cameras. Photo: Shutterstock

Last month, a young girl in eastern China said she felt “suffocated” when her mother installed a surveillance camera in her room to make sure she was studying hard.

In January, a mother in southwestern China’s Sichuan province began live-streaming her nine-year-old son’s daily study sessions on Douyin, attracting hundreds of people to watch.

She said she was happy because it stopped her child being distracted and he finished his homework two to three times faster than before.