Skip to content

Policy for Student Identity Verification in Distance Learning

Purpose and Scope

This policy applies to all credit-bearing distance education courses or programs offered by the University of Rochester, beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student’s graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study.  The purpose of this policy is to ensure that University of Rochester operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) concerning the verification of student identity in distance education.

The HEOA requires that institutions offering distance education or correspondence courses or programs have processes in place to ensure that the student registering for a course is the same student who participates in the course or receives course credit.  The Act requires that institutions use one of the following three methods:

  • A secure login and pass code;
  • Proctored examinations; and
  • New or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.


The NetID system is a University authentication and security measure to ensure that accounts are managed more securely across University campuses. All students at the University of Rochester are provided a NetID for secure access to University systems, including for distance learning. New students claim their NetID through the University of Rochester’s Identity Management system after providing their unique “Student ID” number (or URID) and their date of birth. As part of this set-up, the Identity Management system requires that the student create two secure questions and answers to be used in the event that students need to change their password or reclaim their NetID.

Students are responsible for providing their complete and true identity information in any identification verification process. It is against University policy for a user to give someone his or her password or to allow others to use his or her account.

The University of Rochester uses Blackboard as its learning management system. The Blackboard system integrates with University authentication services to ensure appropriate and secure student access to courses and other Student Information Systems. All users of the University’s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of NetIDs and passwords, or any other access credentials as required. Attempting to discover another user’s password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person’s files or email is prohibited.

In addition, the University’s Student Information System provides instructors access to class rosters that includes student photos associated with their name and account. The Blackboard learning management system also provides student photos associated with their account and this is visible in areas of the course including the discussion. Live audio and video of students interacting in the course is also a feature of the learning management system.  As technology and personal accountability are not absolute in determining a student’s identity, faculty members are encouraged to use these technologies and to design courses that use assignments and evaluations that support academic integrity.

At this time there are no additional student fees associated with student verification. In the event any verification fee is needed, it will be posted on the course registration site to provide an advance alert to students.

The University of Rochester complies fully with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g. This act protects the privacy of student information in distance education by requiring, with certain limited exceptions, that the student’s consent must be obtained before disclosing any personally identifiable information in the student’s education records. Additional information on FERPA and student record access can be found here.


The Provost’s Office is responsible for developing and ensuring compliance with this policy in the University’s various Schools and administrative units. The Provost’s Office will inform School deans and administrative officers when changes to the policy are made.

Return to the top of the page