ESI for all, no universities or students left behind

During the first year of the EDSSI project, partners have been searching for a solution aimed at making the European Student Identifier (ESI) available for all Erasmus Charter Holder Higher Institutions in Europe.

Acknowledging the rich ecosystem of higher education institutions with regards to their IdP solutions, task members led by GÉANT and University Jaume I conducted an analysis and, with the support of all NRENs, government education agencies and the EC through DG-EAC, grouped the universities into four categories:

  • Category 1 Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) already using eduGAIN
  • Category 2 HEI not federated or federated but not using eduGAIN, but with the potential to do so  
  • Category 3 HEI unable to use eduGAIN but which can be supported by their respective NREN and/or government education agency
  • Category 4 Universities unable to use eduGAIN nor receive the support from their NREN nor government education agency

Students of universities in category 4 are the most exposed to the risk of being left out of the Erasmus+ mobility programme as their university might not be able to provide the necessary IT infrastructure to support them with the ESI.

To ensure that no university and no student is left behind, developers at GEANT with support from University Jaume I devised a solution: the so-called IdP of last resort. 

IdP of last resort: what is it?

Intended to make it possible for these institutions to allocate an ESI to their Erasmus+ outgoing students in a simple and practical way, the IdP of last resort is operational since July 2021. This system operates with a streamlined user interface that enhances student inclusion, and reuses popular software solutions to maximise security and stability.

The solution has so far supported approximately 350 higher education institutions.

How does it work?

The platform registers the International Relations Officers (IRO) as the accredited personnel in charge of managing Erasmus+ programme requests.

Once the Erasmus+ application and nomination period ends, the IRO sends a platform-generated institution-specific link to all students of the HEI awarded with the Erasmus+ scholarship (outgoing), inviting them to authenticate themselves on the site. The students will then have the opportunity to use the various range of options available, like the eID authentication or the EC authentication system.

As soon as the student completes the registration, the IRO will confirm their eligibility for Erasmus+ scholarship. All institutions have the flexibility to decide how to manage this validation process using their own internal procedures.

After the student’s request is accepted by the IRO, the solution has the user data and affiliation necessary to generate the ESI for the student, who will hence be able to use the wide range of on-line tools that are supporting the Erasmus+ mobility today.

In the framework of the EDSSI project, a targeted training is being organised for those institutions that are eligible to use the IdP of last resort solution. Additional details will follow shortly.

For more information about the training please click here.

For more information about the IdP of last resort please visit the wiki pages of GEANT here.