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Managing HE identities: how do universities know who's a student and who's not?

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An audit and survey began this month to compare how around 641 colleges, institutes and universities manage student and staff identity cards.

The Identity Project, commissioned by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), is being run jointly by Cardiff University and LSE. Its purpose is to audit ten major UK universities between now and autumn 2007, and to survey 641 higher and further education institutions using an email questionnaire.

Greg Pytel, project and communications officer at LSE, said: 'If I want to use the LSE Library, I show staff my LSE staff ID card which includes a photo of myself and a specific student number. Staff can verify my identity through this. But if I want to use another Library within the University of London, for example, while it is perfectly permissible, myself and other researchers or students can be deterred by having to fill in a whole different set of forms at other libraries.

'What this project aims to do is evaluate what kind of IT and business processes are currently being used, to see if there is more potential for a federated system allowing a seamless sharing of ID verification.

'The model for this would be along the lines of how debit cards are used. People's debit cards are provided by their individual bank, and money is debited from there. But through systems like Visa and Mastercard, they are recognised by other banks and many other kinds of businesses who then recoup any charges from the 'parent' bank.'

Rhys Smith, project officer at Cardiff University, said: 'As part of the project, we are attempting to survey each of the 641 HE and FE institutions around the country, in order to get a broad understanding of how everyone manages their identities. This will let us assess how ready each of them is to operate within this kind of federated system - and what work will need doing at institutions to enable such a federated operation.

'To this end, we are asking all universities and colleges to get involved with the project, and to complete the survey. This will ensure that the project produces guidance relevant to the different kinds of HE and FE institutions there are in the UK.'

Ends

Contact

  • Greg Pytel, LSE, on 020 7852 3550, email: g.pytel@lse.ac.uk 
  • Rhys Smith, Cardiff, on 029 2087 0126

Notes

The JISC Identity Project began on 1 November 2006 and is set to conclude in autumn 2007. The results will then be analysed and recommendations will be open for consideration by JISC members.

The ten major project partners are Cardiff; LSE; Birkbeck College; Goldsmiths University of London; Imperial College London; Queen Mary College; Royal Holloway College; School of Oriental and African Studies; University College London (UCL); and the University of London.

Press cuttings

Library and Information Update
Managing User ID (30 May)
Article about the Identity Project, run jointly by Cardiff University and LSE, to audit ten major UK universities between now and autumn 2007, and to survey 641 higher and further education institutions using an email questionnaire

22 May 2007

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