IAM in Educational Industry

Identity and Access Management Challenges in the Education Industry

The education industry faces unique identity and access management challenges; different education systems have specific IAM needs that depend on their environment. The central challenges include:

  • Facilitating changes in the systems over a long period of time, from one year to another
  • Different and distinct user roles
  • Users with multiple roles
  • Users requiring access from anywhere, and on different devices

Colleges and universities have to accommodate a user base that is even more complex than that of businesses and multinational corporations– distinct roles for students, faculty, staff members, teaching assistants, parents of students, and alumni, need to be properly defined and accounted for in the system. 

The complexity of IAM in the education industry is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of institutions are affiliated with multiple branches and colleges. Access to system tools and the network by students and faculty members goes beyond the confines of the campus. 

The Problem of User Complexity

In the education industry, the problem of users with multiple roles is more frequent and complex. For instance, an alumni member can also be a parent or even a faculty member. When roles change at a greater frequency, provisioning (and de-provisioning) can be a daunting task. 

The status of students changes from one year to another; every semester or quarter, faculty members and classes may change. Some of the alumni may opt to further their education in the same institution, thereby re-establishing their identity as students. 

In a school environment, typically, you have a significant percentage of users leaving every single year. The changes are rapid and difficult to track; 5,000 users may leave in an instant, and then 3 months later, 5,000 fresh users may join. This is just one example of a challenge that is unique to the education industry; no other enterprise or industry faces these types of sudden changes. 

The system of identity management in an educational institute needs to facilitate the support and management of technical guests as well, such as substitute teachers, or students completing online courses. 

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

Diversity in Age and Technical Skill

No matter what the size of the organization is, users will differ in age, experience, and other attributes. Consider an entire school district, however: users would range from elementary school students to older faculty members and parents. The identity system should be straightforward enough to provide a good user experience for a 10-year school-goer as well as a 60-year-old faculty member or parent while remaining sufficiently powerful to meet challenging provisioning requirements.  

Distribution and Management of the System

While technology resources are, in most cases, centrally controlled, individual schools may have different faculties as part of their science labs, library, computer labs and administration, and student resources. Hence, a viable identity and access management solution would need to accommodate a number of points of control, each with specific roles. 

High Probability of Errors

The IT department of an educational institution is faced with a myriad of issues: the complexities of provisioning and de-provisioning accounts, custom scripts and accommodating multiple roles held by individual users, as well as the need to grant access to a variety of learning applications and useful classroom tools. The possibility of user errors affecting the efficiency of the system must be accounted for as well. 

CloudNow’s Akku is a comprehensive Identity and Access Management solution that empowers educational institutions by automating tasks, doing away with issues and errors arising from manual provisioning, alignment, and configuration. The system has the capability to detect and connect disparate accounts belonging to single users, significantly lowering the workload assigned to IT departments. With Akku as a single solution for IAM in an institution, superior user experience is guaranteed. 

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