The Ubiquitous Student ID Card

Back when I went to college (just 15 years ago), I only used my Student ID card to check out library books, prove that it was indeed me who was taking the latest psychology exam, and of course, to show off my once long, flowing hair to those who cant picture it. 

These days, the Student ID card has become pretty much omnipresent on campus, with new ways to use them sprouting up seemingly every semester. 

Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies yesterday released the results of independent research confirming this trend, as the company found that access to buildings, identification, cafeteria/food courts, library, bookstore purchases, printing and vending, in that order, are the leading applications for which American college students use their school-issued cards.

According to the research, four-year colleges are more likely to use credentials for bookstore, vending and cafeteria purchases, laundry, library and retail off campus than two-year colleges while publicly funded colleges use credentials more for printing, transportation and as a debit card on/off campus than private schools. Colleges in cities/urban areas use credentials for historical/student records, printing, secure computer log-in, time and attendance and transportation while small town colleges use credentials for library checkout. Rural schools use them for identification and suburban schools use credentials for access to buildings.

On the adoption front, the study showed that 76 percent of colleges still use a magnetic stripe card, even though students are the leading first adapters for new technologies.  31 percent of them are using proximity cards, 16 percent are using proximity fobs/tokens, 10 percent are using biometrics and 9 percent are using smart cards.

“Overall, the great majority of colleges still deploy picture ID cards, magnetic stripe cards, mechanical keys and barcodes for access control on campus vs. newer, more secure technologies such as proximity and, especially, biometrics and smart cards,” says Beverly Vigue, vice president of education markets at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. Vigue adds that large colleges are most likely to use biometrics, proximity and smart cards, while small schools were least likely to do so.