InAcademia for Merchants

When you’re looking to target the student and academic community in your online sales plan, sometimes it’s necessary to create complex relationships with academic institutions, but when all you need is a simple but trustworthy validation of “student-ness” or other academic affiliation to validate that a customer is entitled to receive an academic discount or service, InAcademia is ideally positioned to support a simple but reliable validation process using a light-weight tool that taps into the world of federated academic identity, removing the need to incur manual processing overheads, which are expensive and create data privacy risks.

InAcademia is an online service that can be used by organisations to validate that a potential customer is entitled to its academic discounts and services.

InAcademia is the real-time, digital equivalent of asking a student or academic to show you their university or student card in order to access or buy your services and products. Using InAcademia will mean that you no longer need to rely on university email addresses or to wait for prospective users to provide copies of identity cards or documentation before you can engage with them. It provides an efficient solution that minimises costs and manual processing.

Like its parent product, eduGAIN, InAcademia provides real-time validation of academic affiliation using trusted sources, but unlike eduGAIN it provides a single point of interaction for the Merchant, particularly those that operate OpenID Connect clients, which acts as a gateway to academic identity providers using the InAcademia service, with the potential to reach a high proportion of academic institutions across Europe.

Merchants connect to InAcademia using the widely adopted OIDC protocol. InAcademia provides a uniform technical experience for Merchants and presents a familiar single-sign-on user interface to users. InAcademia interacts with the heterogeneous, largely SAML-based landscape of R&E Identity Federations and academic Identity Providers in the background, thus hiding all the complexity that is inherent in the varying policies of federation and identity provider solutions.

InAcademia’s enhanced error handling capabilities improve significantly on the native OIDC errors, making it much easier for merchants to determine the ongoing workflow for the result of all validation requests.

So if you need a simple, authenticated and trustworthy validation of academic affiliation, InAcademia is the solution!

InAcademia’s IdP_hinting feature can assist merchants who are keen to reduce the number of clicks a student needs to make in validating a sale or registration process using federated identities, and can also be used in offering services to use cases in specified countries, or even to a subset of specific institutions. Using this element of the InAcademia service as designed has the added benefit that whenever an institution changes the technical infrastructure on which eduGAIN relies to validate a user, for example, when the name of the institution changes, InAcademia will seamlessly inherit the changes in a way that doesn’t disrupt the merchant’s validation process, a problem that sometimes impacts services that use federated identities directly.

The benefits of InAcademia in comparison to full federation membership are extensive:

  • InAcademia is operated and governed by the European national identity federations, therefore, merchants using InAcademia have the benefit of the technology and experience without having to understand every aspect of the academic federated identity landscape.
  • InAcademia directly supports OIDC clients (where the IdPs and eduGAIN protocol is typically SAML).
  • InAcademia handles error flows in a more predictable manner: native OIDC error flow combined with the heterogeneous nature of the eduGAIN landscape can be quite confusing. In comparison service providers have to understand and handle multiple error scenarios.
  • InAcademia logs key events and proactively works to resolve issues found with support of the Federation.
  • Some federations operate an opt-in policy: if service providers were to rely on federation membership alone they would have to persuade on a 1:1 basis all institutions to opt into their SP, and would need to handle any technical idiosyncrasies of every institution.  InAcademia creates a 1:1 relationship (SP to InAcademia) instead of a 1:Many relationship (SP engaging with every Federation and Institution either to fix issues or to ensure IdPs opt in or don’t filter).

Please note: the InAcademia Service makes no attempt to create a relationship with users/students; its operators are in no way responsible or obligated to the end user for any aspect of the products/services subject to the purchase.  InAcademia does not act as an agent for the student, merchant, institution or identity federation, and the identity validation process is a non-linear diversion that does not relate to the sale itself.

Got a Question?

Check out the Merchant FAQs

or Contact Us