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Higher Education Institutes Must Address Students' Growing Data Privacy Concerns, Says Info-Tech Research Group

The IT research and advisory firm recommends that privacy-by-design principles be embedded into the business processes and data lifecycle to protect valuable personal data for students and faculty.

TORONTO, March 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ - In response to the pandemic, many higher education institutes shifted their in-person classes to become fully online or a hybrid mix. This sudden change required students to interact more frequently with online tools and data. Although technological advancements have their benefits, today's students are wary of privacy risks and value privacy and data protection. As a result, higher education institutions are now under increased pressure to protect personal data for students and faculty in the new digital era, especially sensitive information such as health or biometrics data. To help education institutes embed privacy by design into their business processes and protect high-risk personal data, global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group has published its latest industry blueprint, Build Business-Aligned Privacy Programs for Higher Education Institutions

The firm's research explains that one of the major challenges for implementing privacy programs at schools and colleges is that privacy teams have difficulty conveying legal obligations and privacy protection principles and further providing actionable guidance to business partners. In some cases, an institution may even have multiple IT departments. These decentralized and fractional systems lead to inconsistent policies and procedures.

"With a veritable explosion of data breaches highlighted almost daily across the globe, and the introduction of heavy-handed privacy laws and regulatory frameworks, privacy has taken center stage," says Alan Tang, principal research director at Info-Tech Research Group. "Students care about their data privacy, and this concern is increasing."

When building a privacy program, the firm recommends all organizations, including those in higher education, focus on personal data, whether publicly available or private. This includes defining how the data is processed, creating notices and capturing consent, and protecting the data itself. An effective privacy program allows access to information based on regulatory guidance and appropriate measures.

Info-Tech's blueprint outlines a comprehensive approach that aims to embed privacy-by-design principles into business processes through a holistic and integrated privacy program. This approach involves partnering with business departments to provide tools and communication in a language they can understand; gaining visibility on personal data processing activities in order to prioritize data protection initiatives; and creating privacy policies, standards, and procedures to establish guidelines for collecting, processing, sharing, and protecting information within the data lifecycle.

Info-Tech advises that institutions should consider and follow a data lifecycle with the following six stages:

  1. Collect/Create: Implement data minimization and privacy notice.
  2. Store: Define policies for storing data.
  3. Use: Purpose limitations and security measures.
  4. Share: Develop data sharing agreement for third parties.
  5. Archive: Define policies for archiving data.
  6. Destroy: Data de-identification and deletion.

Info-Tech cautions that even with a robust privacy program in place, organizations are still susceptible to data breaches. However, the benefit of a privacy program comes from reducing the risk of regulatory compliance issues and the resulting fines, as well as minimizing the institution's overall exposure.

To learn more about the research and recommendations on improving privacy programs in higher education, download the complete Build Business-Aligned Privacy Programs for Higher Education Institutions blueprint.

For more information about Info-Tech Research Group or to access the latest research, visit infotech.com and connect via LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Info-Tech Research Group

Info-Tech Research Group is one of the world's leading information technology research and advisory firms, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals. The company produces unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. For 25 years, Info-Tech has partnered closely with IT teams to provide them with everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

Media professionals can register for unrestricted access to research across IT, HR, and software and over 200 IT and Industry analysts through the Media Insiders program. To gain access, contact pr@infotech.com.

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SOURCE Info-Tech Research Group