Acclimating college freshmen to their new environment means more than getting them settled in their dorms and showing them the nearest dining hall. Institutions also need to introduce new students to a growing number of digital systems.
“Ten or 20 years ago, a university may have just had one or two systems; now they have a myriad of systems. Having a single login for all of them is really important,” says David Meyer, the vice president of product management at OneLogin, a single sign-on and identity management platform.
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 20.5 million students will attend colleges and universities in fall 2016, many for the first time.
Meyer says higher education onboarding is unique because, unlike businesses, colleges need to complete much of the process on the same day.
Using a platform like OneLogin, IT departments can create mass user records for new student applications, says Meyer. Likewise, when graduation rolls around and students no longer need the access, administrators can use such tools to remove these records.
In addition to efficiently onboarding large numbers of users, automation also provides support for small IT staff.
“Universities are using a lot more digital tools and students need access to these tools from all manners of devices,” says Meyer. “All of their manual processing needs to be automated.”
Rather than having a small IT staff focus on setting up students with email and licensing, Meyer says an identity management system can create the new users, give them the appropriate licensing and even send a notification that their accounts are ready.
“That administrator [in the IT department] never has to log in to provision any of this,” says Meyer.
Texas A&M’s College of Engineering saw its human resources department cut processing time by 45 minutes per employee when it switched to an automated onboarding system for new staff.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of identity management systems like OneLogin for new student registration is the enhanced security.
Universities hold considerable sensitive information, including Social Security numbers and financial information of its students and employees. This has proved tempting to hackers: Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report found that the education sector was tied with businesses for second in terms of most data breaches.
In 2013, we covered Brown University’s success with boosting data security through an identity management platform.
“Things are safer in the cloud,” says Meyer. “A company like OneLogin goes through rigorous auditing and penetration testing by experts who ensure that everything we store has the right security protocols.”