Policy Title

Verification of Student Identity in Distance Education


The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Winthrop University operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) concerning the verification of student identity in distance education.


This policy applies to all students.

Policy Number:
Effective Date:02/01/2021
Date Reviewed: 01/26/2021
Last Review Date: Oct 1 2012 12:00AM; 04/20/2021
Responsible Official: Dean of the Graduate School
Responsible Office: Graduate School/Online Learning
Contact Information:

Graduate School

211 Tillman Hall

Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA




1.0 Specific meanings of bold terms seen throughout this policy can be found within the University's policy definition glossary by following the link below.

1.1 http://www.winthrop.edu/policy-definitions-glossary

All credit-bearing courses and programs offered through distance education methods must verify that the student who registers for a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives academic credit. According to the HEOA, one or more of the following methods must be used:

a)  An individual secure login and password

b) Proctored examinations, and/or

c)  Other technologies or practices that are effective in verifying student identification.

All methods of verifying student identity in distance learning must protect the privacy of student information. If any fees associated with the verification of student identity will be charged to students, they will be so indicated in the online catalog or on the “Tuition and Fees” website.

Secure Login and Password: Each Winthrop student is assigned a unique student number or username and has a student-generated password to log into Winthrop's learning management system. Students are responsible for providing their complete and true identity information in any identification verification process. Information as to how to create secure logins for Winthrop systems is included on the Computing and Information Technology Services - Computer Account Information web page.


Proctored Examinations: Faculty are required to proctor exams or arrange for a proctor to do so. Faculty may identify appropriate space locations on campus or use remote proctoring software within Winthrop’s learning management system. In some cases, students in online courses may present an off-campus location for his or her examinations for approval by their faculty member.


Responsibilities: All users of the University's learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords, and other access credentials as required. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), Winthrop employees are required to protect the privacy of all personal information for all students, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, etc.


An account is given to an individual for the exclusive use by that individual. Attempting to discover another user's password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person's files or mail is prohibited. It is against University policy for a user to give someone his or her password or allow others to use his or her account. Users are responsible for any and all users of their account. Users are responsible for all activity on their accounts. See Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources Policy https://apps.winthrop.edu/policyrepository/Policy/FullPolicy?PID=264.


Faculty: Faculty teaching courses through distance education methods hold primary responsibility for ensuring that students comply with identity verification policy. As technology and personal accountability are not absolute in determining a student's identity, faculty members are encouraged to design courses that use assignments and evaluations that support academic integrity. Instructors should routinely use a variety of assessment instruments and monitor changes in student behavior such as sudden shifts in academic performance or changes in writing style or language used in discussion groups or emails as these may indicate academic integrity problems. 


The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy and for ensuring that deans, department chairs, and program directors are informed of any changes in the policy in a timely fashion. The Office of Academic Affairs is also responsible for ensuring that university-level processes remain in compliance with this policy (registrar, admissions, library, etc.). 


Director of Online Learning: This policy will be referenced on the opening site of Winthrop University's learning management system.


The Department of Computing and Information Technology (DCIT) has account access policies and data encryption measures in place to protect individuals' privacy.

Privacy of Educational Records Policy (https://apps.winthrop.edu/policyrepository/Policy/FullPolicy?PID=79)

Privacy of Education Records Website (https://www.winthrop.edu/recandreg/ferpa.aspx)

Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources Policy (https://apps.winthrop.edu/policyrepository/Policy/FullPolicy?PID=264

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