In early 2020, the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic which accelerated the digitalization process advancing forward the transition to remote handling of student information. As a result, many provisions were introduced by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, which sanctioned the replacement of paper documents with electronic ones, provided that their authentication, integrity, non-repudiation and confidentiality are preserved. The amount and diversity of documents produced in HEIs is substantial. Many of them need to be signed: both for internal use (e.g. student records supporting study processes) and for external use (e.g. documents on student achievements required for further studies or employment). Furthermore, some of these documents travel across borders due to the increasing internationalization of higher education in Europe and beyond. Polish HEIs range in size from 1,000 to almost 50,000 students and often share the same student management system. Therefore, they would benefit from easy-to-share, customizable, simple to install and use, low-cost solution for storing digital certificates, signing documents and validating their signatures.
The subject of this paper is the eSignForStudy project which addresses these needs. The objective of the project is to design and develop a highly configurable eSignature solution to be used in the Polish higher education area, interoperable with Erasmus Without Paper Network for cross-border digital document validation.
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