Mobile First? Access Management at Universities

Modern solutions for uncomplicated access are becoming increasingly important for universities.

Almost 2.9 million students were enrolled at German universities in 2023. And the trend is rising. However, university administrations are facing major challenges due to the trend towards academisation in Germany. Universities have to create space, the campus is getting bigger. Faculties, libraries, sports and leisure facilities, office buildings and halls of residence have to be managed on an area of several hundred hectares. In addition to human resources for administrative work, traditional access management is also being put to the test by the increasing number of students.  

As part of the digitalisation of universities, digital devices – above all smartphones – are to be increasingly implemented. The coronavirus pandemic has brought a breath of fresh air to the discussion surrounding the digital transformation of universities. However, a well-founded strategy is still lacking in many places. Mobile phones in particular offer far-reaching possibilities for access management, for example. Mobile credentials can be used to manage access rights to all areas of the university campus. In the USA, mobile access solutions are much more widespread in the education sector. Around 80 per cent of universities there have already introduced mobile credentials or are planning to do so.

Safe and convenient: the smartphone as a multifunctional talent

Around 150 minutes a day: that's how much time every 16-year-old in Germany spends on their mobile phone on average. Whether as a digital ticket for the train or as a means of payment in the supermarket – more and more people are using their mobile phones to organise their everyday lives. Six out of ten people would like to store their ID card, driving licence and other documents such as health insurance cards or certificates on their smartphone. Digital credentials – mobile credentials – are also increasingly being used in the workplace as part of access control. The advantage of this is that everyone can usually easily keep an eye on their smartphone. The risk of loss or disclosure to third parties is low. For universities, the smartphone with the corresponding authentication options is also ideally suited as an access medium.

Flexible solutions for increased requirements

Traditionally, access at many universities is controlled using RFID identification media and the corresponding readers. As the number of students in Germany is constantly increasing, more and more areas need to be secured. The number of badges required is increasing and the administrative burden is growing. At the same time, it is important to create a secure environment while minimising restrictions. Universities and schools must provide students, pupils, teaching staff and all employees with easy and convenient access to physical and digital resources. The use of mobile IDs can greatly simplify access management at universities.

Advantages of mobile access solutions for universities 

Access rights for students, teaching staff and other personnel can be precisely defined using modern access management. Doors to offices, lecture theatres, laboratories and libraries can be opened or blocked via smartphone with the appropriate stored rights. The lift can also be controlled in this way. The student halls of residence also benefit from the mobile solutions. There is no need to manage keys or issue new badges. - A logistical and financial relief! Thanks to smartphone authentication, all rights are activated when the tenant moves in and deactivated when they move out.

Simplified administration

Centralised identity and access management significantly simplifies workflows. After enrolment, students receive an email with a link. This can be used to download the Access app to their smartphone and make the mobile badge available.  

Cost savings and sustainability

By eliminating the need for physical keys and several thousand badges, material and administration costs are reduced enormously. In addition, the resources required to manually manage and update access authorisations are no longer necessary.

Mobile access solutions also contribute to environmental friendliness. The elimination of plastic cards supports the sustainability goals of universities.

Advantages of mobile access solutions for universities:


Modern access control systems via mobile devices are scalable. They can be easily linked with other security systems such as video surveillance, time recording or hazard management. The advantage: all information flows together on one platform.  

Security through encrypted data  

Mobile end devices make appropriate security measures possible. Authentication on the smartphone using a password or PIN as well as possible biometric control mechanisms protect the wallet stored in the mobile credential against unauthorised access.

Checklist: Integrating digital badges at universities 

Universities and educational institutions wishing to implement mobile access management using digital badges should consider various aspects. With careful planning and sound advice, the technical innovations can be successfully integrated and the benefits fully utilised.

Define areas of application  

  • Determine the areas to which the digital authorisations apply (lecture halls, laboratories, library, etc.) 

Check infrastructure and adapt if necessary

  • Check existing systems and hardware for compatibility 
  • Carry out any necessary updates to readers and access points 

Ensure data protection and compliance

  • Compliance with data protection laws and guidelines such as the GDPR 
  • Implement guidelines for secure data processing and storage 

Ensure user-friendliness

  • Provide intuitive and easy-to-use apps and systems  
  • Offer support  
  • If necessary, test pilot project in small, controlled environments

Cost and budget planning

  • Analyse total cost of implementation and long-term savings  
  • Develop financing options and budgeting strategies

If these points are taken into account, nothing stands in the way of the introduction of mobile access management at universities.

Prospects with potential – modern access management at universities

Cost savings, flexibility and user-friendliness: in addition to these benefits, mobile access solutions at universities can pave the way for intelligent building management. Technologies that are already widely used in the commercial property sector also have enormous potential for educational institutions. In future, modern access management could be used to identify usage trends for specific rooms or areas on campus. This information could be used, for example, to automatically activate air conditioning or heating systems in lecture theatres once a certain group size has been reached. Among other things, the intelligent control system would optimise energy consumption in the institutions.

The integration also opens up new possibilities for the future of campus security and management. The combination with other technologies such as video surveillance and real-time analyses could further improve security protocols. For example, alarms could be triggered if unauthorised persons attempt to enter restricted areas. In addition, access data could be linked to other campus management systems to enable seamless and comprehensive management of the entire infrastructure.

The integration of mobile access management offers far-reaching advantages on the way to a digital university life. In addition to economic and security-related aspects, the flexible and user-friendly administration is impressive. Thanks to modern technologies, employees in educational institutions can work more efficiently, the green footprint is improved and convenience for students and campus employees is enhanced. Mobile access solutions are therefore a decisive step towards a modern, digitally networked campus infrastructure.  

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