Guest post: Oxford Computer Group – managing identity, devices and data in Higher Education


The following post comes from Microsoft in Education Partner Oxford Computer Group, and looks at two areas of interest within Higher Education - Graduate Employment and BYOD. Next month, OCG will be hosting its Identity-Driven Security Summit, providing attendees with the opportunity to hear more from the experts at OCG, as well as Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Brad Anderson, who will be speaking live from Seattle at this year’s event. Brad is a leading figure at Microsoft, and has been at the forefront of our cloud and mobility focus in recent years. This is a great opportunity for delegates to learn more about identity-driven security as part of an enterprise mobility strategy.


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Attracting students.  Providing them with a world class experience.  Helping them build a successful career.  There’s no disputing the upside of the cloud.  But balancing device and identity management along with information protection in this brave new world can prove challenging.

Universities in the UK rank among the best in the world.  However, the higher education sector is changing rapidly and the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework is set to disrupt the landscape further.  With core aims that include raising teaching standards and providing greater focus on graduate employability, student experience is increasingly emerging as a top investment priority.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to show how the latest innovations from Microsoft can help education institutions deliver a compelling technology strategy with students at its heart while maintaining control and meeting security and compliance needs.

Graduate Employment

As students continue to carry more of the costs of a degree course, it’s increasingly important that they make well informed choices to ensure the time and money invested is well spent.  At the same time, employers need highly skilled graduates who are ready to enter the workforce but they’re also raising reservations about the skills and job readiness of the graduate talent pool.

The fact that only 35% of students in England paying up to £9,000 fees in 2015 felt they had received ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value for money (HEA-HEPI survey) shows the extent of the opportunity for universities to provide degrees with lasting value.

Using technology as an enabler to create a connected campus can empower students and give them transferrable skills they need to succeed in the workplace.  Students want to use Office 365 and access other applications running on cloud platforms.  And they want to do this from a Windows 10 -  or other - device, whether they’re in a lecture theatre, doing research in the library or studying outside of the campus.

Digital transformation is possible in a cloud based world but managing identity, devices and data is critical.   A strong identity and access management solution using MIM (Microsoft Identity Manager) enables you to take full control of users’ permissions, automate processes and ensure sensitive data remains secure while Azure Active Directory (AD) provides identity management, device access control and data protection capabilities for cloud resources including Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft Intune, plus other third party cloud services.

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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The recent Student Experience Survey published by THE evaluated universities across 21 different areas, nominated by students themselves.  Loughborough University took first place, performing particularly strongly in categories relating to high quality facilities and the campus environment.

At a time when teaching and learning are becoming increasingly collaborative and cloud-connected, today’s millennial students are digital natives and expect an anytime, anywhere learning model using any device in any place.

The resulting mobile and distributed technologies require new forms of monitoring and data protection.  How can you do things like granting a student access to an application only if she’s using a correctly configured device in a known location?

From an IT management perspective, there are many moving parts when planning any kind of BYOD strategy.  Points of consideration include:

  • Mobile device management: use Intune for device, application and data management
  • Identity driven security: harness the capabilities of Microsoft Cloud App Security and Advanced Threat Analytics
  • User centric application delivery: System Center Configuration Manager can help with this
  • Encryption for all files and storage locations: provided by Azure Information Protection

Book your place at OCG's annual, Identity-Driven Security Summit to find out how OCG and Microsoft can help with your strategy around attracting students to your university and increasing their satisfaction.


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