October 16, 2021

Data Privacy Compliance in Higher Education

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Mark Rowan

Students at colleges and universities in the United States tend to trust their higher education institution with their personal information. However, researchers have also found that most underestimate the amount of data collected about them. As educational institutions have access to ever more data, it becomes harder to comply with data privacy laws and protect the data itself.

Privacy Laws And Higher Education

Student privacy is guarded by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).Since 1974, all schools that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education, have been prohibited from sharing student records without written consent.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, namely for research conducted on behalf of the school itself or official audits. Law enforcement agencies and the courts can also access records. Schools are allowed to share directory information unless the student or their parents have opted out.

On top of federal laws, at least 40 states have passed their own student data protection legislation. The majority of those are modeled on the Student Online PersonalInformation Protection Act (SOPIPA) of 2014. This law applies to students from kindergarten to 12th grade and is primarily aimed at educational websites, apps, and mobile apps.

The law sets minimum standards for data security and prohibits service providers from sharing information or using it for purposes outside of education.

What Data Do Colleges And Universities Collect?

In 2021, most students in higher education are digital natives or millennials. They grew up around technology, and until recently, advertisers believed this whole generation didn’t care or worry about handing out their personal data. In fact, their attitude worried researchers, considering most millennials spend much of their personal and their academic lives online.

Whilst higher education online courses had been growing in popularity for the last decade or so, the coronavirus pandemic forced education online almost entirely. As schools are returning to in-person teaching, countless courses and other services will remain online. As a consequence, colleges and universities are likely to collect more information than students and their parents may be aware of.

Managing Large Data Volumes

While students and their families may be surprised by the amount of data they are willingly sharing with their university and college, schools are facing problems of their own. They are responsible for a virtual mountain of information.

Some researchers believe that schools collect more than 40 data points per student per day. Based on 1,000 students, that would mean a total of 1,200,000 data points over the course of one month. There are approximately 20 million students enrolled in U.S. postsecondary educational institutions at this time, leading to an almost unfathomable amount of data being collected daily.

How can schools handle this amount of data? It’s a huge responsibility for any educational institution. The consequences of data mismanagement reach beyond legal repercussions. The average cost of a data breach in the United States exceeds $8 million.

For educational institutions, the damage to their reputation a data leak can cause may have lasting consequences far exceeding this amount. Gone are the days when student information could safely be stored in filing cabinets. First, filing cabinets are too easily accessible. Second, even the largest archive would soon run out of space considering the amount of data collected daily.

Managing sensitive data is made easier with the help of specialized platforms. Rather than trying to create an in-house storage system, these platforms allow colleges and universities to take advantage of tools developed to deal with constantly expanding amounts of data.

How Data Protection Platforms Keep Information Safe

Data protection platforms like Data Sentinel start by discovering both structured and unstructured information gathered by schools. The software analyzes information collected on school campuses and in cloud-based applications.

Then it separates sensitive information such as credit card details from less sensitive data. Information is processed according to data protection laws such as FERPA as well as other compliance rules, and the institution’s own regulations.Depending on the type of data, it is then processed and stored securely to avoid breaches or leaks.

Automation makes the entire process faster, easier, and safer than a human could. Human error is almost completely eliminated. What’s more, Data Sentinel can highlight weaknesses within an organization’s data collection procedures. The software’s deep learning capability then opens up the potential of learning from the existing information.

How Data Can Be Used

According to a 2015 report by EDUCAUSE, three out of four students are happy for their alma mater to use data collected for analytical purposes, as long as it benefits their course. Approval drops dramatically when it comes to analyzing the campus-based activities of students. Less than50% were happy for their university to scrutinize their day-to-day use of facilities.

Using deep learning technology allows colleges and universities to access data safely and extract insights that will help improve the overall learning experience. Improving education through data analysis is something most students support.

Whether or not students are comfortable with their university or college collecting their information is often dependent on what the data is used for. For example, one study found that students were happy to share the results of their highly sensitive social-emotional learning survey if it was used for educational purposes. By contrast, students were not happy to share less sensitive social media use data.

Generally, students were less comfortable sharing information with companies than they were with educational institutions accessing it.

Students’ confidence in their school’s handling of data is also tied to their understanding of how the college or university handles personal data. Most higher education institutions have data protection policies in place, but they are not necessarily well publicized. Campus and cloud-based awareness campaigns are a great way of raising the student population’s knowledge and understanding in this respect.

The Next Step

Data collection has become a normal part of campus life. Equally, data protection, privacy, and data security need to be a priority for every school in the United States. Just as the potential of insights gained from the data increases daily, so should the security when handling sensitive personal information. Utilizing the potential of automation and deep learning through secure software tools allows schools to protect their communities. It also helps institutions uncover invaluable information to help create better learning opportunities for future generations of students.

October 16, 2021

Data Privacy Compliance in Higher Education

Date:
Hosted By:
Register Now

Students at colleges and universities in the United States tend to trust their higher education institution with their personal information. However, researchers have also found that most underestimate the amount of data collected about them. As educational institutions have access to ever more data, it becomes harder to comply with data privacy laws and protect the data itself.

Privacy Laws And Higher Education

Student privacy is guarded by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).Since 1974, all schools that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education, have been prohibited from sharing student records without written consent.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, namely for research conducted on behalf of the school itself or official audits. Law enforcement agencies and the courts can also access records. Schools are allowed to share directory information unless the student or their parents have opted out.

On top of federal laws, at least 40 states have passed their own student data protection legislation. The majority of those are modeled on the Student Online PersonalInformation Protection Act (SOPIPA) of 2014. This law applies to students from kindergarten to 12th grade and is primarily aimed at educational websites, apps, and mobile apps.

The law sets minimum standards for data security and prohibits service providers from sharing information or using it for purposes outside of education.

What Data Do Colleges And Universities Collect?

In 2021, most students in higher education are digital natives or millennials. They grew up around technology, and until recently, advertisers believed this whole generation didn’t care or worry about handing out their personal data. In fact, their attitude worried researchers, considering most millennials spend much of their personal and their academic lives online.

Whilst higher education online courses had been growing in popularity for the last decade or so, the coronavirus pandemic forced education online almost entirely. As schools are returning to in-person teaching, countless courses and other services will remain online. As a consequence, colleges and universities are likely to collect more information than students and their parents may be aware of.

Managing Large Data Volumes

While students and their families may be surprised by the amount of data they are willingly sharing with their university and college, schools are facing problems of their own. They are responsible for a virtual mountain of information.

Some researchers believe that schools collect more than 40 data points per student per day. Based on 1,000 students, that would mean a total of 1,200,000 data points over the course of one month. There are approximately 20 million students enrolled in U.S. postsecondary educational institutions at this time, leading to an almost unfathomable amount of data being collected daily.

How can schools handle this amount of data? It’s a huge responsibility for any educational institution. The consequences of data mismanagement reach beyond legal repercussions. The average cost of a data breach in the United States exceeds $8 million.

For educational institutions, the damage to their reputation a data leak can cause may have lasting consequences far exceeding this amount. Gone are the days when student information could safely be stored in filing cabinets. First, filing cabinets are too easily accessible. Second, even the largest archive would soon run out of space considering the amount of data collected daily.

Managing sensitive data is made easier with the help of specialized platforms. Rather than trying to create an in-house storage system, these platforms allow colleges and universities to take advantage of tools developed to deal with constantly expanding amounts of data.

How Data Protection Platforms Keep Information Safe

Data protection platforms like Data Sentinel start by discovering both structured and unstructured information gathered by schools. The software analyzes information collected on school campuses and in cloud-based applications.

Then it separates sensitive information such as credit card details from less sensitive data. Information is processed according to data protection laws such as FERPA as well as other compliance rules, and the institution’s own regulations.Depending on the type of data, it is then processed and stored securely to avoid breaches or leaks.

Automation makes the entire process faster, easier, and safer than a human could. Human error is almost completely eliminated. What’s more, Data Sentinel can highlight weaknesses within an organization’s data collection procedures. The software’s deep learning capability then opens up the potential of learning from the existing information.

How Data Can Be Used

According to a 2015 report by EDUCAUSE, three out of four students are happy for their alma mater to use data collected for analytical purposes, as long as it benefits their course. Approval drops dramatically when it comes to analyzing the campus-based activities of students. Less than50% were happy for their university to scrutinize their day-to-day use of facilities.

Using deep learning technology allows colleges and universities to access data safely and extract insights that will help improve the overall learning experience. Improving education through data analysis is something most students support.

Whether or not students are comfortable with their university or college collecting their information is often dependent on what the data is used for. For example, one study found that students were happy to share the results of their highly sensitive social-emotional learning survey if it was used for educational purposes. By contrast, students were not happy to share less sensitive social media use data.

Generally, students were less comfortable sharing information with companies than they were with educational institutions accessing it.

Students’ confidence in their school’s handling of data is also tied to their understanding of how the college or university handles personal data. Most higher education institutions have data protection policies in place, but they are not necessarily well publicized. Campus and cloud-based awareness campaigns are a great way of raising the student population’s knowledge and understanding in this respect.

The Next Step

Data collection has become a normal part of campus life. Equally, data protection, privacy, and data security need to be a priority for every school in the United States. Just as the potential of insights gained from the data increases daily, so should the security when handling sensitive personal information. Utilizing the potential of automation and deep learning through secure software tools allows schools to protect their communities. It also helps institutions uncover invaluable information to help create better learning opportunities for future generations of students.

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