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 a thousand institutions around the world.

The reference models are governed and continue to be developed by the CAUDIT Higher Education Reference Models (HERM) Working Group, with active collaboration and contributions from corresponding groups in EDUCAUSE (particularly through the Enterprise, Business, and Technical Architects Community Group, ITANA), UCISA (United Kingdom), and EUNIS (Europe).

The HERM 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, data, and application 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.

Version 3.0 of the HERM was released in February 2024 and is available to EDUCAUSE members as the ZIP archive attached to this page.  The HERM distribution includes an overview of change highlights and commentary about enhancements being considered for introduction in the next major release, along with the core HERM artefacts:

  • Business Capability Model and underlying catalog
  • Business Capability Model “Recipe Cards”
  • Business Model Canvas and supporting documentation
  • Data Reference Model and underlying catalog
  • Application Reference Model and underlying catalog
  • Extra features, including versions of the models in ArchiMate and Visio format

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