• The Associated Press

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A prestigious university is giving away hundreds of iPhones, in part to use its Global Positioning System to nab students that skip class.

Truants often fake attendance by getting friends to answer roll call or hand in signed attendance cards. That’s verging on cheating since attendance is a key requirement for graduation here.

Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo is giving Apple Inc.’s iPhone 3G to 550 students in its School of Social Informatics, which studies the use of Internet and computer technology in society.

The gadget will work as a tool for studies, but it also comes with GPS, a satellite navigation system that automatically checks on its whereabouts — a convenient way to prove attendance.

Students, who skip class, could still fake attendance by giving their iPhone to a friend who goes to class. But youngsters aren’t likely to lend their mobile phones, which are packed with personal information and e-mail, according to the university.

U.S. universities use the iPhone for various purposes. At Stanford University in California, students have developed iPhone applications for a course. At Duke University in North Carolina, the gadget is used to get around the campus and find information about course listings and other events.

Aoyama Gakuin signed a deal earlier this month with Softbank Corp., the exclusive vendors of the iPhone in Japan.

The number of students using the iPhone is expected to reach 1,000 in the program — the first time the iPhone is being used on such a scale at a Japanese university.

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