Three Unique Identity & Access Management Challenges for Higher Education

Three Unique Identity & Access Management Challenges for Higher Education












According to a recent study, 68% of universities and colleges are prioritizing IT Security in Identity and Access Management as the demands have increased in this industry. Due to the complex organizational architecture in Higher Education Institutions, the challenges are rather distinctive. In this article, you will learn about what causes these IAM challenges and how to solve them. 

The Enormous Database

In the United States, small colleges and universities have fewer than 5 000 students, and the huge ones have more than 30 000 students. In Europe, universities like the University of Amsterdam have over 40 000 students, 3 000 Ph.D. pursuers, and 6 000 employees 

The size alone creates an enormous database for the organization to maintain and manage. Every new semester, the institutions welcome many new students and existing students back to school. In these periods, the administrative departments at universities and colleges get buried in the enrolment process. As a result, there is often a delay in handing out identity badges, and students and staff cannot access the facilities. Many organizations cope with this problem by spending a great deal of their budget to hire more staff to handle this gruesome process. On the other hand, others spend way too much time struggling.  

However, this solution is short-term, expensive, and inefficient. What is missing from the equation is a powerful tool. Traditional databases like Excel are just not enough to enroll and update these many credentials. Additionally, in this era of technology, the Authority has introduced various data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It puts even more pressure on the Higher Education Institutions as they are required to update the security level of their databases. 

The Complexity of User Profile and Roles 

The complexity of the profiles and roles is one of the main reasons to make IAM challenges for Higher Education unparalleled. Just as businesses and corporations struggle with managing a diverse set of users, colleges and universities battle with an even more complex user base that includes faculty, students, staff, parents, and alumni.

In addition, students may be in several groups such as undergraduate, post-graduate, exchange student, and others depending on the school. Each student also changes classes every year, from freshman to sophomore, to junior, to senior.  

Again, students are not the only user profiles to administer. There are full-time, part-time, and visiting professors. As well, there is staff from other departments within the organization. Each profile has different access privileges to multiple locations such as the cafeteria, library, classrooms, and laboratories. 

As complicated as it sounds, this problem can be solved with a suitable ID Card and Credential Management Tool, which allows educational institutions to enroll and manage their credentials in a stress-free manner. 

Increasing Demands from End-Users

According to recent research, in the United States, 19% of students lose their ID cards each year. That equals 3.8 million cards going missing every year, which results in students not being able to access lunch, library, or even their dormitories. In this case, losing ID cards is not just inconvenient anymore, it is expensive! While the production cost of a physical ID card ranges from $5 to $50, the cost of replacing lost ID cards per year is around $83.6 million. This number is dreadful and signals that it is high time higher education institutions worldwide reconsider their ID card management approach.  

Furthermore, colleges and universities are welcoming students and staff from Generation Z, who are known to be digital natives. They value mobile accessibility, technology, and genuine user experiences. This situation has raised more complications for these higher education organizations to catch up with the new generations. 

In an ideal world, you can put the responsibility back in the hands of your students. Imagine that they can access their credentials through a mobile device to update their information and manage their physical card statuses. Another option can be adopting the digital identity for the new generation, which is accessible via any mobile device. For example, they can show this digital ID on their mobile devices to verify themselves to gain access to designated locations. To prevent identity theft, the Stand adds another layer of security with a live icon.

As the need for a digital ID becomes pressing, it is high time that colleges and universities step up their games to win their student and staff satisfaction! CardExchange® Solutions brings this ideal world to you by presenting a Digital ID and a self-service portal in one solution.


All these challenges are unique to Higher Education Institutions worldwide due to the complexity of their organizational architecture and the rising demands and needs of their users.  

As the expert in the ID market, CardExchange® recognizes the pain points that the higher education industry is facing. We present to you a complete cloud-based solution: CardExchange® Cloud Suite. It is a cloud-based ID Management solution that solves all these challenges for you.  

This solution consists of four powerful tools that enable you and your educational organization to streamline the ID management process:

  • CardExchange® Stand is a self-service portal for your end-users to upload a photo, manage and report card status, and a digital ID. 
  • CardExchange® Controller is a credential management system to manage, issue credentials and approve cardholder information. When combining this CMS with the Stand, you can do less work and control more. 
  • CardExchange® Admin Center allows you to customize your business roles, workflows, create branded physical and digital ID cards, and more.  
  • CardExchange® Press is your professional ID card design, encode and print software. It allows you to reduce the production cost and secure access with the latest encoding technology.

It is the first of its kind to offer you a subscription-based SaaS solution that you only pay for what you need. Learn more here or contact us for more information.



Yasmijn Oosterhof

18 April 2022

30 December 2022

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