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Trust and Identity for Erasmus+; no student left behind with new ‘IdP of last resort’

A new solution devised and operated by GÉANT is supporting online enrolment in the Erasmus+ mobility programme for students who would otherwise be unable to benefit from it. The ‘IdP of last resort’ was launched in August 2021 and is already helping more than 400 institutions that participate in Erasmus+, but are unable technically to support their students’ online participation. The work has been supported by the European Digital Student Service Infrastructure project, EDSSI, which is working towards seamless student mobility with connected student e-services.

The European Commission is carrying out a massive digitalisation of the Erasmus+ programme under the European Student Card Initiative; EDSSI is one of the projects funded to support this initiative. One of the goals is to enable a fully digital student application process for Erasmus+, leveraging national eIDs (e-identities) through the EU’s eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) system and student IDs through the academic identity federations and the eduGAIN interfederation service.

Not all of the institutions that are eligible for Erasmus+ participation can run the necessary IT infrastructure to connect to their national federation, however, or they may be in a country where the federation is not yet connected to eduGAIN.

Analysis & development

EDSSI partners GÉANT and University of Jaume I led analysis of the higher education institution ecosystem with regards to their identity provider (IdP) solutions. Based on that analysis, GÉANT was able to leverage the MyAcademicID platform to implement the ‘IdP of last resort’ solution for these institutions.

Christos Kanellopoulos, Senior Trust & Identity Manager at GÉANT, spent a long, hot summer with his team completing the technical development of the ‘IdP of last resort’:

“I am delighted that with this solution we are already serving more than 400 institutions that otherwise couldn’t support their students to access the online Erasmus+ tools.”

Licia Florio, Senior Trust & Identity Manager at GÉANT explained:

“GEANT is operating the ‘IdP of last resort’ for Erasmus+ purposes only. This has required coordination with the European Commission and with the research and education identity federations to find out which institutions could not be served by NRENS and so needed to be on board this platform.”

How it works

The ‘IdP of last resort’ makes it possible for these institutions to manage the affiliation and European Student Identifiers (ESI) for their Erasmus+ mobility students in a simple and practical way. The platform registers each institution’s International Relations Officers (IROs) as the accredited personnel in charge of managing Erasmus+ programme requests. The IROs send a platform-generated institution-specific application link to all relevant students. Once the students have submitted their applications, the IROs validate their data and confirm their eligibility for Erasmus+ scholarship. Institutions have the flexibility to manage this validation process using their own internal procedures. After a student’s application is validated by an IRO, the user data and affiliation are used to generate an ESI for the student, who can then use the wide range of online tools that are now supporting the Erasmus+ mobility programme.

Further information

The EDSSI project is organising training about the ‘IdP of last resort’ solution for the IROs at the institutions that rely on it. See more about this story and the EDSSI website for more information.

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