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Single sign-on for education network

A UK education federation has completed the transition to a new single sign-on system for access to network and collaborative resources.

Nearly 500 UK institutions and organisations are to move to a new access management system to increase security and simplify access to educational resources and networks.

JANET, the UK's education and research network, said the web-based open standard Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) compliant access management system, called 'Shibboleth', was ready to provide access to approximately eight million users across the UK through the UK Access Management Federation.

Nicole Harris, senior services manager at the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), said: "The UK now is unique in having a coherent access management structure stretching across the full educational range."

The JANET network is operating the Federation programme on behalf of JISC and the public education body, Becta. And over 90 per cent of higher education (HE) institutions and more than half of further education (FE) providers have joined to enable single sign-on access to its network and online resources.

Harris added that the transition programme had pursued a joined-up approach over the last two years, with support from Becta, JANET, Edina [the JISC-funded UK data centre], JISC regional support centres, third-party providers and publishers, together with HE and FE institutions.

"It has given institutions the means by which to make an evolved choice about access management strategy and make full use of the advantages of access management through the UK Federation," she said.

JISC said that the Federation now has over 150 service provider platforms registered with over 100 educational publishers such as the BBC, Elsevier, ProQuest, Thomson Scientific, Institute of Physics and a range of smaller publishers, including Rock's Backpages.

And the access management transition programme, which has supported the first major change in access management for the education and research sectors for ten years, offers improved services to users, easier compliance with regulatory requirements, reduced support requirements and improved data security.

Over 150 programme resources have been made available, including the deployment of access management systems for 12 publishers and service providers, the deployment of software for 40 smaller colleges and the detailed review of over 200 resource lists from institutions.

In future, JISC also said Newcastle University's training and development service Netskills would continue to work with JANET UK to develop training courses focused on service provider requirements this September to complement the 120 free training places it had already filled.

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