Welcome Week - a few thoughts about usernames

Published on 8 October 2013

Throughout Welcome Week we, together with Student Administration Services, ran a pretty full-on Student Registration Help Centre in the CTL building where students came with any issues they had with academic registration, their computing account, confirming attendance, Liverpool Life, getting photos taken and uploaded for their student card - you name it we solved it or knew who could solve it if we couldn't.

It was once again a very successful joint venture and over 1,400 students came to see us and asked for a bit of help, a lot of help or a bit of guidance and support - all very rewarding for staff and students alike.

We always have a bit of a postmortem after any significant event like this, especially when we plough resources, staff time and commitment into supporting students - we learn a lot and we plan for the following year partly based on the experience we have in that week.

One of the issues students struggle with is the lack of a single 'sign on' - in other words, they have to remember a 'username' to log onto the computers and services and they also need to use their student ID number to log onto Liverpool-Life. Many students came to us because they had forgotten their 'username' or forgotten they had activated their computing account so they did not know their username.  We have made improvements every year; most services are now single sign on - for example the Digital University  gives immediate access to VITAL, email and so many other services without additional logons.  We have also altered the structure of student usernames so they start with their faculty code (eg HS) then take the students first initial and however many letters of their family name to total up to an 8 letter username.  Whilst this is an improvement we are aware things could be better.

So what are we doing? As a major project for 2014/15 we are looking into the feasibility of making the student ID number the student username - hoorah! It sounds easy doesn't it? It isn't sadly as easy as it sounds or we would already have done it - for a start usernames are 8 characters long and student ID numbers are 9 - so we cant just substitute one for another. The implications for all our databases and systems are considerable but we believe the pay off will be worth it. We will keep you informed about how we get on as soon as we have more news...