The Higher Education Reference Models

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The Higher Education Reference Models provide standardized business and data architectures that communicate a generalized view of how higher education institutions are organized and the information they use. First published in 2016, the CAUDIT Higher Education Reference Models are now being used by more than three hundred institutions around the world. Gartner has recognised the CAUDIT reference models as "one of the most mature business capability models for higher education".

The reference models are governed and continue to be developed by the CAUDIT Higher Education Reference Models Working Group, with active collaboration and contributions from corresponding groups in EDUCAUSE and UCISA.

These resources can be used in many ways, such as a starter kit to accelerate digital transformation; to describe, communicate, and model an institution's business and data architectures; a reference point to explore commonalities and differentiators for the institution; and a strategic communication tool to engage business stakeholders.

These reference models help institutions to:

  • increase the value and efficiency of their architecture teams
  • describe a 'whole of institution' view to colleagues within their institution
  • facilitate the exchange of architectural knowledge and good practice in the sector
  • support interoperability and collaboration
  • improve engagement with industry in major projects and initiatives

A living collection of examples that illustrate the many valuable ways institutions are using the reference models is available in the Higher Education Use-Case Compendium.

The reference-model artefacts are supplied in the ZIP file attached to this page, and include:

  • Business Capability Model and underlying catalog
  • Business Model Canvas and supporting documentation
  • Data Reference Model and underlying catalog
  • Extra features, such as beta versions of the models in Archimate and Visio format

1. Lowendahl, J-M. (2020) Use Business Capability Modeling to Drive Digital Business Design in Higher Education, Gartner Research, Article ID #G00722622, available at

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