Should universities require students to attend? Academics disagree. One side in the discussion of university attendance policies has tried to dismiss any association between attendance and student performance, insisting that students have a fundamental right to choose what and when to attend. By merging student record data and course attendance data for three cohorts of final year undergraduate students at a London‐based university, we are able to isolate attendance effects for 674 students, giving us a large sample, without the inherent weaknesses of more traditional survey methods. We provide fresh empirical evidence for the positive association between attendance and exam performance, and argue for a more balanced view in the attendance policy discussion. Politicians and Higher Education policies are increasingly focused on employability, student retention and completion indicators. Carefully crafted attendance policies can have positive effects on pass and completion rates, primary policy targets of Higher Education funders and policymakers. Attendance effects therefore cannot simply be ignored.