Unique Identity Management Challenges in the Education Industry

September 9th, 2019   |     |  product & technology

Identity and access management (IAM) demands are amplified in the higher education industry. Education systems have specific IAM needs that are unique to their environment. Consider some of the challenges higher education institutions face:

  • Provisioning changes for most users year-after-year
  • Many different user roles
  • Users with multiple roles
  • Users who need access from anywhere, on any device
  • Multiple sources of identity management

What IAM Challenges Make the Higher Education Industry Unique?

Just as businesses and multinational corporations struggle with managing a diverse set of users, colleges and universities grapple with an even more complex user base that includes faculty, students, staff, teaching assistants, parents, and alumni.

This is exacerbated by the fact that educational institutions typically operate as a parent organization with multiple affiliated branches and colleges. And, faculty and students expect to access tools on their own devices whether they’re on- or off-campus.

All of this inevitably leads to questions around security and compliance, single sign-on, process automation, and extending access to the cloud.

Multiple Sources of Truth

Unlike businesses, which tend to have one source of truth for identity management (usually a directory such as Active Directory or LDAP, and sometimes, Human Capital Management software), universities and colleges tend to rely on multiple sources. For example, they may rely on the Student Information System for faculty and staff, but rely on the admissions system for students, and the donation system for donors. They also have additional systems they may need to merge, such as the library, athletics programs, and alumni organizations.

User Complexity

Although businesses also have users with multiple roles, this situation is more frequent and multifarious in the education industry. For example, a faculty member is often also an alumni and sometimes a parent; a staff member can also be a student.

Roles change constantly, making manual provisioning a nightmare. Each year a student comes in with a different status. Each semester or quarter, their instructors and classes change. Each graduating class becomes alumni. And some of these alumni access continuing education courses, thereby coming full cycle again as a student.

“In a school environment, you have a large percentage of users leaving every single year. All of a sudden you just lose 3,000 users, and then add another 3,000 a few months later. It doesn’t happen in any other organization,” says Patrick Scanlan, Supervisor in Technology and Data Services at San Jose Unified School District.

The identity system also needs to support temporary guests, like substitute instructors or students who are taking online courses.

An organization’s ability to grant users access with the appropriate permissions in each of these scenarios affects their end-user’s ability to perform, as well as, the security of sensitive data.

How Are Leading Higher Education Institutions Meeting Their Daunting IAM Needs?

The complex and unique IAM needs of an education organization make a comprehensive solution hard to find.

OneLogin has a proven track record in the educational segment with features designed to deliver an IAM solution that works for more than just enterprises. Watch the OneLogin Professional Services Team explain how they’ve helped schools and universities automate processes.

About the Author

Christine Johnston is a Regional Sales Manager - Education at OneLogin. She is working to create OneLogin’s first vertical in Education and helping schools simplify, streamline and secure their IAM processes. Christine is also mom to 3 beautiful children. In the very little time she has between working and being a mom, she helps children of war.

View all posts by Christine Johnston

About the Author

Christine Johnston is a Regional Sales Manager - Education at OneLogin. She is working to create OneLogin’s first vertical in Education and helping schools simplify, streamline and secure their IAM processes. Christine is also mom to 3 beautiful children. In the very little time she has between working and being a mom, she helps children of war.

View all posts by Christine Johnston

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