Academic Affairs

Policy Title
Verification of Student Identity in Distance Education
Policy Description

This policy applies to all credit-bearing distance education courses or programs offered by Winthrop University, beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student’s graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study. 

Policy Procedures

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.

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.


Proctored Examinations:  The Academic Instruction and Testing Center is available for instructors’ use in Dinkins Hall.  Instructors are required to proctor their own examination or arrange for a proctor to do so.

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. 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.

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.  Changes in student behavior such as sudden shifts in academic performance or changes in writing style or language used in discussion groups or email may indicate academic integrity problems.  Instructors routinely should use a variety of assessment instruments. As best practices suggest, faculty should routinely ask students to share in appropriate ways important ideas learned from texts and references, require research projects and paper assignments to be submitted in steps, and/or use

The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy and that deans, department chairs, and program coordinators 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.).

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



Internal Control Considerations
Policy Author(s)
Effective Date
October 2012
Review Date
Not specified