Middlesex university

Building an international authentication system on OpenAthens at Middlesex University

18 April 2016 • Sophie Allen, marketing officer

Middlesex University in north London has around 25,000 students and around 5,000 staff and provides a variety of subjects, covering art and design, business, health and education, law, media, and science. Although based in London, the University has three established international campus sites in the United Arab Emirates, Malta, and Mauritius. New global markets have presented a significant challenge for the University in supporting access to its huge bank of online information. The university needed to create an international authentication system.

Middlesex University builds an international authentication system

The challenge

Students and lecturers have 90 different information publishers and resources, each offering thousands of e-books, journals and academic papers to enhance the education process. Enabling access to this information is complex at the best of times, but doing so for students at international locations is even harder because each country requires a different set of licenses. Also, each location has different courses requiring access to different types and levels of online information and since there is little or no local expertise at each international site, licensing and access have to be handled from the UK.

The solution

The University has used OpenAthens for many years to handle UK- based library authentication and decided to use OpenAthens, along with additional tools, to help manage library access for its internationally based students and staff. With simple-to-use web interfaces, that are easy to set up, the University has been able to easily create library access profiles for each location. For example, OpenAthens makes it quick and simple to allocate resources to different groups of users.

"If you’re an organisation looking to manage complex home and international authentication, then I would strongly recommend OpenAthens. We’ve been a customer for a number of years; they are the experts and OpenAthens is one of the best authentication tools”

Alex Birchall, library systems manager, Middlesex University

OpenAthens also provides a more comprehensive way of providing access because not all students use the University portal as a route to library resources and it supports users irrespective of how they access services. The University also sought technical advice from the OpenAthens support team to help manage and configure the solution, with additional onsite consultancy provided to help implement best practice authentication system methods and processes.

"OpenAthens is very important to what we do at Middlesex University because it enables students and staff to access many resources with one user name and password. It makes my job as manager of authentication easy and simple.”

Alex Birchall, library systems manager, Middlesex University

The results and benefits

  • Makes international authentication straightforward and easy to manage and administer
  • Enables worldwide authentication to be managed remotely from a single, central location
  • Supports multiple types of access irrespective of user IP location
  • Allows non-IT, library and information experts to manage complex authentication
  • Scalable and future-proofed OpenAthens provides one seamless platform for managing change and new challenges
  • Delivers first-class, experience-based authentication advice and support
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