FAQs for Merchants

How does it validate student credentials?

InAcademia uses information maintained by the home institution (University) of the user to validate eligibility to services and discounted products. The InAcademia service allows merchants to initiate a validation request at the InAcademia.org service endpoint. The user is then asked by InAcademia.org to log in to his/her home institution to prove he/she is a member of the community. If login was successful, the response is passed back to the requesting merchant.

During such a transaction, the InAcademia Service does not directly release the attributes received from the Institutional Identity Management systems towards the requesting merchant. Instead it interprets the response from the identity management systems (the Identity Provider) of the Institution.

See Technical Overview for more information.

I’m interested in the concept, but I’m not sure I understand the fundamentals of federated identity, and why it’s of benefit to me.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Identity Federations and how they create a seamless single-sign on experience for users, please refer to https://edugain.org/about-edugain/key-concepts/

As a Merchant, why would I select InAcademia, when I could connect to an Identity Federation for ‘free’?

Actually, you’re entitled to choose either route, depending on the policies of the local Identity Federation you’re entitled to engage with, but there are already cases where merchants that had joined a local Identity Federation later chose to onboard the InAcademia service. When seeking to widen their service offerings to additional academic institutions or expand into different countries, they found the process of engaging to the differing requirements of other Identity Federations and approaching individual institutions to promote and request ‘opt in’ to their services too time consuming. The InAcademia support team was able to connect these services in such a way that means they’re available to connect with academic institutions using InAcademia across a whole Federation.

There are various other reasons why InAcademia offers value in cooperation with eduGAIN:

  • InAcademia is native OpenID Connect, and therefore will be more familiar to organisations that have previously implemented single sign-on based on social media services.
  • If you require simple ‘student status’ validation, then InAcademia eases the process in both deployment, connection and maintenance.
  • It’s tough for many institutions to support the workload necessary to engage with you as a Service Provider in an Identity Federation; when an Institution accepts the InAcademia service, it no longer has to allocate effort to onboarding your specific service, meaning that you’re more likely to be able to reach a wider range of academic institutions than if you were to become a service provider in a federation alone.
  • The InAcademia brand has been trademarked with the intention to uniquely present to the academic community a trusted and reliable method of proving entitlement to academic offers.
  • Furthermore, we closely collaborate with the research and education community, so we’ll be able to help you inform academic institutions that your service is widely available to institutions that have opted into the InAcademia service.

What is meant by ‘student-ness’?

The definition of ‘student’ differs widely among academic institutions. We deliver student affiliation according to the locally accepted definition, which may extend to full-time, part-time, and mature students. We use the term ‘student-ness’ to describe this.

Can I validate affiliations other than ‘student’?

‘Student-ness’ can provide other affiliation statements such as faculty and staff, and information from which country and institution user comes from- see /technical-overview/technical-overview)”.

Where is InAcademia available?

InAcademia is currently operating in Germany and the Netherlands, and is available in other European countries. Although we cannot guarantee that InAcademia can interact with all academic institutions, we can work with you to understand the markets you’d like to target, and with in-country Identity Federations to establish a roll out plan that meets your needs; please contact us for more information.

How is InAcademia supported?

Support is offered in accordance with https://inacademia.org/service-policy/; additional levels of support may be chargeable as extra, according to requirements.

How much does it cost to use?

Unless your organisation meets the criteria of a Research & Education service provider, the InAcademia Service is subject to a ‘per validation’ fee that will be invoiced regularly. Please refer to https://inacademia.org/pricing/ for more information.

How can I be sure that students don’t share accounts?

Students do not need to register accounts with the InAcademia Service in order to benefit from the services you offer; instead, they will simply use their institutional credentials to verify their affiliation status using the principles of federated login. InAcademia redirects users/students to the authentication service of their university or institution. By entering their credentials they prove themselves to be legitimately affiliated with that institution.

How can I be sure that universities provide accurate data?

InAcademia uses identity data that universities and research institutions provide about their users. How can one be sure this data is accurate and up-to-date? The answer is that the identity data used by InAcademia comes directly from the organisation’s internal identity management system. This data therefore is also used by the organisation itself to perform access control (e.g. to access organisation’s HR systems) and authorisation (e.g. to allow students to review their grades). Because the same identity and affiliation data is used by InAcademia as well as the organisation that provides it, it’s in an organisations very own interest to keep data up-to-date and accurate.