The seven-digit solution

Though the experience of course enrollment at UVA may never become less frustrating, the University’s new student information system should ensure that the process will be more secure during the next few years.
    PeopleSoft—a recently selected administrative program that houses and monitors student records—utilizes seven-digit identification codes to differentiate student records. These codes will, if all goes as planned, eventually abolish the University’s use of Social Security numbers as identifiers, says Student System Project Director Charles Grisham.
    “We imagine that it will take three to four years to make this conversion,” Grisham says. “As newly admitted students come online—to register for courses, pay bills—that identifier will stay with them.”
    Currently, students use their Social Security numbers for verification when enrolling in classes, at the dining hall, at the library and in financial transactions. PeopleSoft’s system will temper the visibility of Social Security numbers in sensitive online exchanges.
    Oracle (PeopleSoft’s parent company since January 2005) is currently used in the financial and human resources divisions of UVA. Grisham hopes that the implementation of the new system will pave the way for a single access point for both students and faculty.
    “There’s a product on the horizon called ‘Fusion,’” Grisham explains, “that Oracle says will combine the functionality of their human resources and finance modules with PeopleSoft’s information systems.” Rather than inscribe their SSN on a number of forms, Grisham’s plan funnels all sensitive information through a single entrance. This means the identities of UVA’s student body pass through far fewer hands, and thus avoid the attention of online mischief makers.
    University Relations Director Jeffery G. Hanna says that UVA has measures in place to ease the transition. “Students use keypads to self-enter their ID number in places such as the library… We’re not waiting patiently for this to come—we want to take the steps that we can take.”
    Both Hanna and Grisham emphasize the deliberate and democratic process that selected PeopleSoft. “We looked at more than 2,600 individual requirements for a student system, and collected more than 48,000 votes on those requirements.” 
Recent identity theft cases—notably, the recent heist of sensitive information from the Veteran’s Affairs organization—have put new emphasis on information security, a trend UVA is wise to get in on.

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