Close up of lock key on filing cabinet

3 strategies to improve your university admissions records security

by Ben Ruch

Prospective and current students trust your admissions departments with a lot of sensitive information. What additional steps can you take to protect it?

Admissions departments handle many sensitive documents every day, including health history forms, Social Security numbers, and financial information. When a student sends their personal information to a respected institution, they expect it to be kept safe. But, so do the other tens of thousands of prospective (and current) students. Securing that much information can overwhelm any admissions department.

According to a Harris Poll survey conducted on behalf of Ricoh¹, nearly two-thirds of Americans doubt colleges and universities have proper measures in place to secure students’ confidential information. More than half have heard of admissions information being misplaced. Meanwhile, increasingly concerning stories about improperly accessed admissions information are cropping up in the news.

You are likely already taking steps to improve your university admissions record security. However, here are three steps you might not have considered:

1. Enable point-of-receipt capture. While many are focused on threats to digital files, paper-based records such as admissions applications are incredibly vulnerable because they don’t take any particular expertise to compromise. Just-received paper records pose even more of a problem, as they have not yet entered the system and can be misplaced and forgotten – errors happen no matter how excellent a department’s administrators are.

To address this issue, it’s important to digitize incoming records as quickly as possible, which ideally means digitizing information at the point of receipt. Many colleges and universities have solutions – digital fax, which automatically captures electronic versions of incoming faxed documents; mobile capture, which enables prospective students to take pictures of documents with their tablets and smartphones and submit them directly to the admissions workflow; and automation solutions, which funnel incoming mailed documents directly into the admissions process.

2. Choosing secure storage. Digitization is an important starting point, but making sure information is secure in its digital form is the crux of the issue of admissions records security. It’s important to find the right kind of management and storage, whether that includes the cloud, on-site or off-site solutions. While different universities have different storage needs, security is always essential.

3. Digitize back files. Securing admissions information isn’t just a job for new, incoming documents. With this in mind, many colleges and universities are digitizing their old files. By pulling sensitive records out of filing cabinets and scanning them into workflows and storage, improperly accessing those files becomes a lot harder. Additionally, the metadata associated with these advanced capture processes makes locating old records easier.

While admissions is one of the busiest departments in many universities, these tips can help yours get on the path towards improved information security.

Are you doing enough to foster information mobility and drive down costs for students?

Download the trend report now to learn more about how you can improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase security within the admissions process.

Ben Ruch, Senior Region Manager, Higher Education for Ricoh USA, Inc., works with colleges and universities to provide Professional Services, Managed Services and Business Process Outsourcing Solutions that simplify processes, automate paper-based workflow and improve speed of information. Ruch has over 23 years of experience in the industry and expertise in production printing systems solutions and professional services solution.

  1. ¹ "Higher Education Trend Report: Streamlining Information Flow to Improve Admissions Processes." Harris Poll on behalf of Ricoh.