How do we verify students?

InAcademia.org is a service for validating a user’s affiliation with academia. It can validate if a user is a student, a member of staff or faculty. To validate student and other affiliations, InAcademia uses the information provided by the home institution (University) of the user. InAcademia leverages information from all of Higher Education throughout Europe via the interfederation service, eduGAIN. Validation is real time, the information is up-to-date, and the identity of the user has been thoroughly verified (by the academic institution), e.g. by validating the user’s national ID or similar.

A validation request is initiated at a merchant’s website when a user clicks the InAcademia button. This triggers a validation request at the InAcademia.org service endpoint. The user is then asked by InAcademia.org to prove affiliation with the academic community by entering their institution-specific credentials. InAcademia evaluates if the response matches the requested affiliation and sends back the result to the requesting merchant.

Validation Profiles

Upon request by the Service, two profiles of the user are available:

  • ‘Transient´ profile.When using this profile, the response will contain nothing that can be used to identify or profile the user persistently.
  • ‘Persistent’ profile. When using this profile, the response will contain a pseudonymous identifier. This identifier has no relation with the identifier(s) provided by the home institution. The identifier will remain the same across multiple requests for the same user by the same service. Different services will receive different pseudonymous identifiers.

The user’s affiliation is always sent to the requesting Service. However, a Service may only request a specific affiliation. Supported affiliations are:

Affiliation   Description
   affiliated Is the end-user affiliated to the institution?
 student Is the end-user a student at the institution?
 faculty+staff Is the end-user a teacher/researcher (faculty) or a worker (other than teacher/researcher, staff) at the institution?
 alum Is the end-user an alumni at the institution?

The response may also contain additional claims, including the country of the user and the domain name of the institution, should an institution be willing and able to provide this.

Claim Description
country The country of the users’ home institution.
domain The domain name of the users’ home institution.

In all cases the user is presented with a consent screen, allowing the user the option not to pass certain information to the requesting Service. Do note that not passing requested information may lead to a failure of the validation and is signaled to the service as such.