Simplifying The Student Onboarding Process - Stress-Free IAM For Education

17 July, 2023, by Stephen Swann

In real world identity management scenarios, the higher education sector is up there with the most complex and potentially anxiety inducing user communities. For even the smallest college thousands of users are changing status all in a short period of time. How do you make this as simple and painless as possible?

During the summer months in the UK the Student Registry department are certainly kept very busy with a high numbers of new users appearing, leaving, or switching learning modules. Add to this the excitement of ‘clearing’ and it’s easy to see how this can be a stressful undertaking for all concerned.

So, how do you deal with demands of ensuring provisioning and entitlement assignment is timely and accurate?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the universal requirements and then look at all the different personas you may have within the Student identity community.

All students will require at minimum access to all of the accounts and boards they will be using for the following school year and access to the relevant campus buildings, including the library. Most importantly they will want to see their name in the right module list and access their new timetable.

So far, so relatively straightforward – all of these depend on their offer status and chosen course. However, this is where it starts to get a little more complicated.

Student A. has no other requirements beyond having access to their email, access to the library, and all the boards for their chosen classes. But there’s a complicating factor. Student A is doing a joint degree. Maybe they’re doing Maths with Applied Maths – that’s two courses, or a more unusual combination like Engineering and Music – that’s two courses facilitated by two different departments. Either way, this is a student who now needs access to more parts of the campus and needs to see more module boards.

Then there’s Student B. Student B isn’t doing a joint degree, but they have other requirements. Student B has a full-time carer, who also needs to be granted physical access to the campus. They’ll need access to classrooms, to libraries, and the exam hall. Student B might also require counselling, wheelchair access, or other accommodations within the classroom. This means going through documents relating to Student B and assigning them the correct accessibility features.

Next, we have Student C. Student C is the perfect, average student. No joint degree, no other permissions needed. There’s only one problem. When initiation week begins, Student C is nowhere to be seen. Uh oh. Emailing or phoning Student C garners no response, and now you have an account with no owner! So, what do you do with that account? Do you delete it right away? Or do you wait for a response from Student C?

SIMS & Identity Governance

Of course, the Student Registry Department will have full control of all of this information via the Student Information Management System (SIMS), but it is unlikely that they appreciate the physical and logical access requirements for their students.

An Identity Governance & Administration (IGA) tool can bridge the gap between the SIMS world and the world of end user account provisioning across Active Directory, Azure, Moodle (or other LMS platforms) and physical access control systems. Not only that, a well thought out IGA deployment can take into consideration the fact that a student may also be a member of staff and can ensure that access rights aren't negatively impacted by their dual persona status.

A Higher Education Pattern

At Madigan Solutions, we have built a Higher Education starter pack for IBM Security Verify Governance targeting all of the common user types: student, employee, alumni, visiting professor, guest & tenant personas with the aim of simplifying the joiner, move, leaver (JML) life cycle processes of each.

The customised schema has been designed to fit around the Campus, School, Department, Course, Module model and the rules that govern access are appreciative of the multi-module approach to life in Higher Education as well as the ongoing relationship with a student at the end of their course - students need to be able to retrieve their exam results, after all.

If you work in Higher Education, and you have a focus on either the student onboarding process or the provisioning of entitlements to students, why not contact to see our Higher Education starter pack for IBM Security Verify Governance in action.

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