The Unexpected Benefits of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) for Higher Education Institutions
In today’s fast-paced world, continuous learning has become more important than ever before. Not only are technological advancements happening at an accelerated pace, but they’re also anticipated to reshape millions of jobs over the next decade, according to the European Commission. Because of this, individuals need to keep themselves updated with the latest skills and knowledge to stay competitive in the job market.
But, how can educational institutions and university registrars motivate students to pursue continuous learning when learners don’t see the immediate value in doing so? Read on to find out how organisations across the educational realm are using digital credentials to support and motivate students along their lifelong learning journeys.
Today, amid the continued digital transformation of learning, higher education institutions are increasingly implementing digital solutions to effectively streamline and upgrade the processes they have in place. As reliance on advanced technology continues to grow rapidly, there’s an increasing need for digital trust solutions, particularly self-sovereign identity (SSI)
SSI helps with privacy-preserving features, giving learners control over their own data and data security. With this in mind, we’re taking a closer look at the unexpected benefits learners can experience as a result of SSI technology.
Understanding self-sovereign identity in higher education
Self-sovereign identity is a growing approach to digital identity that gives individuals control of their digital identities and personal data. Organisations are beginning to leverage SSI as a powerful strategy to establish trust in online interactions, especially as digital credentialing grows and technology continues to evolve and change the way we communicate.
How are SSI and VCs affecting higher education today?
The development of SSI has been accompanied by advances in Verifiable Credentials (VC), which is an open technical standard that enables tamper-evident digital credentials that can be cryptographically verified. These technological innovations are shifting the access and sharing paradigms for credentials, through the use of digital wallets.
These digital wallets will serve as valuable containers for everything learners will need to share in their academic and professional careers, from transcripts to micro-credentials and degrees. By keeping VCs in their digital wallets, they can save time and ensure verification, which inevitably eases the burden on higher education administrators, too.
By introducing digital trust ecosystems based on SSI principles and Verifiable Credentials., institutions can support learners in accessing and sharing data in a new, controlled and trusted way. Not only can learners share their academic credentials and accomplishments with institutions and potential employers across the globe, but also with loved ones on social media. The growing desire for more privacy, control and agency by learners, is driving institutions and employers toward the implementation and adoption of SSI technology. As a result of introducing SSI solutions, all key parties stand to enjoy a host of benefits moving forward.
The benefits of SSI for key parties — institutions, learners and employers:
- Supporting the admissions process: In the educational domain today, there are two distinct admissions processes for international and domestic students, and overseas students have a particularly demanding process to navigate. With the introduction of VCs and an SSI ecosystem, these processes can be effectively aligned as it becomes considerably easier for students from anywhere in the world to share their academic credentials and for institutions to verify them.
- Improving the learner experience: Only half of university students believe the education they’re receiving is worth their tuition, according to Qualtrics. This highlights a critical gap in what students are looking for and what higher education institutions are able to offer them. Fortunately, leveraging advanced digital solutions — SSI technology, issuing VCs and using digital wallets — is a considerable step in the right direction, providing learners with the security, agency, control and accessibility needed to elevate their overall learning experience. This inevitably helps attract potential learners while retaining the valuable students you already have in the long term.
- Streamlining employment processes: According to a survey conducted by Intelligent, 57% of employers verify education credentials to ensure applicants have the right knowledge and qualifications for the position. However, this can be incredibly difficult for employers to validate and for learners to effectively show exactly what they’ve accomplished over the years. With VCs and an SSI framework in place, individuals can share the specific trustworthy credentials that are applicable to the job opening and as a result, employers can more easily access and verify this information.
- Improved security: Within an SSI framework, personal data is decentralised and encrypted, giving students ownership of their information and control over its security. This makes it more secure for students to share this information directly with an institution and mitigates the opportunity for cyberattacks.
- Upgraded control and consent: Because SSI gives you ownership over an identity piece, learners can control what parts of their identity to share. This introduces the possibility for learners to avoid sharing personal information they’re not comfortable with — such as age, gender, ethnicity etc. — when applying for further study or future jobs.
- Increased learner agency: Introducing VCs and SSI solutions is also a critical step toward fulfilling learner agency. Learners establish control and own their connections with issuers and verifiers which enhances cross-border mobility and interoperability between systems.
Introducing SSI and digital credentials with Digitary CORE
The growth of digital credentialing and SSI technology within higher education institutions is quickly empowering students to take control of their unique learning journey and assert claims to third parties through progressive and deliberate disclosure — while considerably simplifying and streamlining processes for institutions and other key parties along the way.
If your organisation is ready to introduce advanced digital solutions to relieve the burden on valuable team members and elevate the student experience, Digitary by Parchment can help. Digitary is a leader in digital credentials, providing an online platform for certifying, sharing and verifying academic credentials. This enables millions of learners to share their digital credentials online quickly, securely and easily, while institutions and their registrars reduce credential fraud, improve service levels and increase their overall efficiency.