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The UK Access Management Federation for education and research. John Chapman, Project Adviser, Technical Policy & Standards. Problems we are trying to solve. Multiple usernames and passwords Multiple copies of personal data held by third parties

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The UK Access Management Federation for education and research

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the uk access management federation for education and research

The UK Access Management Federation for education and research

John Chapman, Project Adviser, Technical Policy & Standards


Problems we are trying to solve

  • Multiple usernames and passwords
  • Multiple copies of personal data held by third parties
  • Duplication of effort across multiple institutions
  • Publishers and network providers having to interface with multiple systems
  • Difficulty in sharing resources between institutions

JISC announce its intention to support federated access management for UK FE/HE.

  • All LAs members of the federation?
  • Personalised online learning space
  • WMnet & LGfL pilots prove Shibboleth works in UK school sector

Integrated learning & management systems

  • Becta’s business case accepted by DfES
  • LGfL continues regional federation as a production service
  • Standards Fund Grant 121 (and 121a)

Workshops, strategy paper & laboratory test led to recommendation of implementing Shibboleth technology

  • Work with JISC & UKERNA to establish the UK Access Management Federation for Education and Research – launched 30 November

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

  • Neither an authentication or authorisation system
  • Secure exchange of messages between two parties (Identity Provider and Service Provider)
  • Authentication handled by institution/LA/RBC (devolved authentication)
  • Authorisation achieved by an exchange of attributes (such as ‘member of an institution’)
  • Providers need to sign up to a ‘trust’ agreement
  • An implementation of SAML (Security Assertion Mark-Up Language)
benefits of simplified sign on and the uk federation
Benefits of simplified sign-on and the UK federation
  • For the learner:
    • Easier access to resources
    • Privacy preserving
    • Facilitates anytime, anywhere learning
  • For the institution:
    • Reduction in administrative burdens for managers and users in schools
  • For the LA/RBC:
    • Allow for greater aggregation of purchasing content
    • Facilitate secure sharing of content between authorities
  • For the education sector:
    • Shared, cross-sector infrastructure
    • Facilitate access to e-portfolios
  • For the Government:
    • Strong collaboration between Becta and JISC
    • Centrally provided services for best possible value
the uk access management federation
The UK Access Management Federation
  • A group of member organisations who sign up to a set of rules
  • An independent body, managing the trust relationships between members
  • End user organisations act as ‘identity providers’ (IdPs) and optionally ‘service providers’ (SPs)
  • Publishers and resource providers act as ‘service providers’ (SPs)
organisational structure
Organisational Structure
  • Funded by DfES & JISC
  • Provided for Schools, FE & HE
  • Operational management by UKERNA
  • Policy & Governance Board
    • 3 Becta nominated members (Paul Shoesmith, Andy Tyerman, Mike Kendal)
    • 3 JISC nominated members (John Robinson, Iain Stinson, Brian Gilmore)
    • ‘Neutral’ Chair (Professor Sir David Watson)
  • Technical Advisory Group
    • JISC, Becta, RBC, LA, University and College representation
what the service provides
What the service provides
  • A set of Rules that binds members:
    • Make accurate statements to other members
    • Keep federation systems and data secure
    • Use personal data correctly (inc. DPA1998)
    • Resolve problems within the Federation
      • Not by legal action
  • Guidance, examples, support
    • How to comply with the Rules
    • How to work with other members
      • Common definitions, etc.
what the service provides9
What the service provides
  • Operational management
    • Registration mechanism for SPs and IdPs
    • Adding new members to the federation & updating existing members’ metadata
    • Fault finding and trouble shooting
    • Compatibility testing of server certificates and CA Qualification
    • Technical and operational documentation
    • Ongoing federation development
    • Reporting

OK, I redirect your

request now to

the Handle Service

of your home org.

Please tell me

where are you from?

I don’t know you.

Not even which home

org you are from.

I redirect your request

to the WAYF

I don’t know you.

Please authenticate















User DB








OK, I know you now.

I redirect your request

to the target, together

with a handle




I don’t know the

attributes of this user.

Let’s ask the Attribute


Let’s pass over the

attributes the user

has allowed me to


OK, based on the

attributes, I grant

access to the




Identity Provider

Service Provider

Web Site


birmingham s walkthrough
Birmingham’s walkthrough







UK Access Management


la rbc roadmap to join the uk federation
LA/RBC roadmap to join the UK federation
  • LA/RBC audit – Review readiness to adopt federated access management.
  • Directory Development – Identify or implement a suitable local/regional directory. Directories need to be correctly populated with attributes about pupils and staff that meet the federation standard, known as the eduPerson specification.
  • Authentication Development – Choose and implement a local/regional authentication, or single sign-on system.
  • Implement IdP – Implement Shibboleth Identity Provider software.
  • Join Federation – All organisations who wish to participate will need to join the UK federation by registering and agreeing to observe federation policy.
  • Institutional Roll-out – On becoming a member of the federation, the institution/LA/RBC will need to roll out the new system. This may include new user guides, training and support mechanisms.
core attributes
Core attributes
  • eduPersonScopedAffiliation – does this institution subscribe to the service in question? e.g., or
    • student (learner), staff (non-teaching staff), faculty (teaching staff), employee (all staff), member (comprises all the previous categories), affiliate (relationship short of full member), alum (ex pupil/alumnus)
  • eduPersonTargetedID – persistent opaque identifier – can provide personalisation & usage monitoring across sessions
  • eduPersonPrincipalName – the ‘NetID’ of the user, e.g. – a persistent identifier across different services
  • eduPersonEntitlement – enables an institution to assert that a user satisfies an additional set of specific conditions that apply for access to a particular resource e.g. “entitled to access financial accounts”
  • Where extra attributes are required, the federation has a process for the addition of subsidiary attributes, but...

For most applications a combination of eduPersonScopedAffiliation and eduPersonTargetedID will be sufficient


Executive Liaison: a senior role within the LA

Management Liaison: authorised to register entities

SCS certificates available from UKERNA

more information
More information
  • UK federation
  • High level info on Becta’s site
  • Shibboleth
    • (main site)
    • (wiki)