Identity Management in Higher Education, 2011 Report

The 2011 report of identity management (IdM) in higher education updates ECAR's 2005 research and extends that work into the domain of federated identity. ECAR gathered information through a survey of 323 higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada and from interviews with 55 IT leaders at 43 institutions.

Key Findings

Higher education has made substantial progress in the last five years, but many institutions are still struggling to deliver the full benefits of IdM. Institutions that report the greatest success have invested in all infrastructure aspects — technical, administrative, and political — required for identity management.

  • Doctoral institutions commonly join inter-institutional identity federations; other Carnegie classes often use federation technologies to enable on-campus single sign-on.
  • A majority of respondents agreed that demand for cloud computing in the coming year would increase their need for federated ID solutions.
  • Between 2005 and 2010, use of strong passwords rose 25% and banning use of unencrypted passwords doubled.
  • Institutions engaged in automated role-based authorization projects grew by half; those with fully operational implementations reported better IdM outcomes.

ECAR Recommends

Based on its findings in Identity Management in Higher Education, 2011, ECAR offers the following recommendations:

  • Establish role and identity management policies before embarking on an IdM implementation.
  • Gain executive support, anticipate infrastructure needs, conduct risk assessments, develop business cases, and identify and monitor appropriate metrics.
  • IdM can provide many benefits. Be clear about which priorities you wish to achieve before you begin.
  • Take a serious look at federating.