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  • Higher Education Smart Campus Association

    HESCA's aim is to provide Higher Education establishments with a platform for debate on smart card technology issues relevant to their business objectives.

    HESCA endeavours to provide an opportunity to explore the technology in detail; the standards, software, hardware, applications and integration, aiming to develop a mechanism by which a series of cost-effective solutions is available to its members.

    HESCA meetings, each of a full day's duration, take place quarterly. They include a number of presentations from British and international specialists, and provide valuable opportunities for members to explore the smart card marketplace in a non-sales environment.

    Themed full-day quarterly Forum meetings have several specialist-led sessions, with ample breaks for networking.  In the background, voluntary working groups are being established to consider topical issues, and to submit written recommendations to the members of HESCA.

    What a member says:

    “HESCA meetings have offered an invaluable opportunity to obtain insight into the world of smart card technology and the variety of potential applications.  As the group is attended by colleagues from other HEIs, there is also an opportunity for networking and to share issues and solutions.”

    David Manfield, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

    Hesca Supplier Directory - for the latest HESCA service for HEI's seeking suppliers for their smart campus card projects (under construction).

  • 2019 Meetings


    This Forum meets quarterly.  Amongst the topics and activities that we shall be addressing are:

    • Developing an effective attendance monitoring system to support a student engagement and retention strategy
    • Smart campus schemes as part of an ID Assurance programme
    • New techniques for enrolment, card issuance processes and procedures
    • Coping with GDPR
    • Is the Cloud relevant to smart campuses and how?
    • Use of new smart technologies such as AI and IoT
    • The potential impact of smartphones on smart campus card schemes
    • The use of biometrics in HEI/FEIs: products, software, standards and choices
    • Towards the cashless campus: products and challenges: do bank cards have a role?
    • Presentations by e-payment system providers: open or closed-loop?
    • The business and financial cases and plans for introducing cashless campus routines
    • The emerging new generation of physical access control system architectures
    • Using smart campus schemes for logical and system access control
    • Supporting innovative new functions with existing smart campus schemes
    • Case studies from UK and overseas smart campus card schemes
    • Successful strategies for card migration to a higher security form factor
    • Development of statements of best practice for HEI/FEIs
    • Development and progress of the HESCA Starter Pack for integrated supplier products
    • Smart card vending in a smart campus. What are the benefits?
    • Migration of existing legacy systems to a smart environment: the challenges
    • Strategies for room utilisation systems for a smart campus
    • Smart Card online store services: what are the benefits?
    • A dedicated university app: Integration with smart card services: strategies: one app to rule them all?
    • Smart car parking in a smart campus: what are the benefits?
    • Smart card production: in-house or bureau? Pros and cons.
    • HESCA19: Bristol is the location for our annual two-day regional conference & exhibition


    Meeting Dates and Agendas


  • How to join

    Smartex Forums are membership-based with an in-advance membership fee structure designed to suit the entire range of interests in smart technology, biometrics, smart payments, prepaid, RFID tags, M2M and NFC, and to accommodate differing time and budgetary resources.

    Comprehensive information about member services and benefits, and about Forum subjects and plans for the next year are provided in the 11 sub-sections listed below. These include details of how to join, and a membership application form.

    If you have any questions or comments about membership, please don't hesitate to contact the Smartex office on +44(0)1440 712610, or at, and we will do our best to help you.

  • Members' Pages

    Members have access to restricted content.

    To access presentations from past meetings of our forums, click on the links below:

    Transport Card Forum


    Smart Payments Forum

    Mobile & Identity Forum

    Internet of Things Association

    Delegates' Area

    Delegates have access to presentations from the latest Smartex meeting.

    Delegate Presentations

  • HESCA News

    Updated on 7th February 2019

    Apple to expand the iPhone’s NFC functionality?
    NFC World
    Apple could be set to expand the iPhone’s NFC chip reading capabilities to allow it to be used to read data stored in security chips like those used in passports, comments made by the UK government suggest. The UK Home Office has been in talks with Apple to find a way to extend availability of its EU Exit app, currently only available on Android phones, to make it possible for EU citizens living in the UK to also use an iPhone to register for Settled Status with the app.
    (If only...  Apple will one day regret disabling full NFC functionality.  Ed.)

    IoT firm teams up with university for 5G project to help speed up triage appointments
    Med-Tech Innovation
    Professor Politis said: “Alongside speed increases which will rival those delivered by optical fibre, 5G will incorporate IoT technology, which opens up ...

    University of Exeter...creating the digital edge
    University of Exeter Chief Information and Digital Officer, Alan Hill, is refocusing the Russell Group institution's strategy from a systems to a services approach in order to "accelerate its digital journey".

    What measures are universities taking to secure IoT devices on campus?
    Study International
    IoT, otherwise known as the Internet of Things, relates to a network of devices connected to the internet such as computers, tablets, smartphones and ...

    Staffordshire University to launch AI-powered bot for students
    CIO UK Daily News
    Last year, Staffordshire University broke into the UK university top 50 league table for the first time. Director of Digital Services at the university, Andrew Proctor, attributes this success to the digital transformation he has overseen and an IT strategy that has seen the organisation put AI front and centre.

    CBORD study reveals valuable insights into the student experience
    69% of decision makers feel their campus ID card program plays a major role in the student experience, and of those, 19% believe that role will ...

    RBS secures 25 percent stake in digital current account Loot
    The Paypers
    The Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) new digital-only retail bank Bó has invested GBP 2 million in the digital current account Loot – taking its total stake to 25%. … Loot launched in 2014 to help students and young people manage their finances and says it now has more than 175,000 sign-ups. All verified customers are provided with a prepaid debit card and offered personal insights into spending patterns.

    Gallagher provides student security with integrated access control solution at the University of Birmingham
    …A large and complex estate with buildings of different construction and age, the University needed a solution that was flexible enough to accommodate their unique requirements. Gallagher Command Centre, together with the Aperio® wireless locking technology by ASSA ABLOY Access Control, was selected as the University’s preferred choice, meeting their security needs in a cost-effective way while still delivering to the overall specification.

    Near-Field Communication Technology Supports Contactless Student ID at Universities
    EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education
    A new partnership among Apple and three universities turns students iPhones and Apple Watches into contactless student IDs. Blackboard and ...

    US: Auburn University deploys biometric tech from Princeton Identity for access control
    Biometric Update
    Princeton Identity announced that Auburn University in Alabama has updated and expanded the biometric identity system it uses to secure areas within its athletic facilities. Princeton Identity’s new IDS software and Access200 iris readers have been deployed to allow those enrolled in the system access to team locker rooms, eliminating the need for access control cards, fobs, or PIN codes.

    Student power a catalyst for expansion of Fingopay in Copenhagen
    Sthaler PR
    A student campaign to make Fingopay a permanent fixture at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) has paved the way for it to be installed campus-wide. Danish debit card giant Dankort teamed with British fintech firm Sthaler to pioneer the self-service payment system that requires no cash, cards or mobile at point of sale.

    UK: University of Leeds upgrade door security with SALTO ProAccess management system
    …Starting in 2010, Residential Services swapped out its previous mechanical keyed system and since then has been using a wire free electronic access control system from SALTO across much of its student accommodation. This has proven reliable providing the versatility and efficiency to manage in excess of 1737 doors across the campus. But technology does not stand still, and many advances have taken place since the original installation. So, the Residential Services team have now chosen to upgrade their SALTO ProAccess management system to the latest version to take advantage of its increased funct

    Bournemouth University develops new battery for wearable technology
    This research comes at a time when wearable technology usage is becoming more common, as one in five people in the UK own a wearable, and one ...

    Aculab to study inner workings of automatic speaker recognition with University of York
    Aculab has announced a collaboration with the University of York on a language and linguistic science research project titled Towards...

    How a Windows Update Can Spark New IoT Services on Campuses
    EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education
    Integration of the Internet of Things has become a common goal for higher ... While many colleges are focusing heavily on IoT as part of their digital ...

    ASSA ABLOY: A campus wide vision for access control
    ASSA ABLOY’s Angelo Faenza discusses the company’s vision for higher education access control, how to navigate card technology migration decisions, and shows some of the hardware offerings that universities can leverage to better secure their campuses.

    Building the intelligent campus
    The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a buzzword for many years, but without making an appreciable impact. However, two key elements have come ...

    Hull mum told to pay £840 to get her kids to school as EYMS bins discount cards
    Hull Daily Mail
    "This eagerly awaited roll-out of contactless, comes following an investment of £1million in new Ticketer machines by Go North East, following its ...

    More on Apple’s foray into University smart campus card territory. (Ed.)
    Apple Adds Student ID Cards to Apple Wallet for Quick Access Around Campuses
    Interesting Engineering
    Apple Pay is the most popular mobile payment service in use, experiencing more than 1 billion transactions in the last quarter alone, up three-fold from ...

    Starting today, students at three universities will be able to use Apple Wallet on their iPhone and Apple Watch as their student ID card.

    Pioneering library smart card trialled at Ambleside campus
    University of Cumbria (press release)
    Staff have developed what is thought to be pioneering library 'smart card' which uses a quick response (QR) code to be read by digital devices.
    (Quick, send the idea to Chris Grayling for his ‘smart’ railway dream. Ed.)









    A Smartex Group company


    There are a number of reasons why you may be considering the introduction or expansion of a smart campus card scheme, or migration towards the replacement of smart cards with smartphones as the portable token for students and staff.  These could include:

    • Reduction in the numbers of cards and tokens requiring to be held
    • The need to avoid reputational damage from the use of MIFARE Classic-chipped cards
    • The necessity to meet student demand for the use of smartphones as the token of choice
    • Reduction and streamlining of manual/administrative functions for staff
    • Creation of a modern image for your institution
    • Enhancement of security surrounding physical and system access control
    • Support for an identity assurance programme
    • Reduction or elimination of the use of cash on campus
    • Improvement of the general student experience



    The introduction of any new pervasive, fast-changing technology can be challenging, and we have seen schemes set out with good intentions but ultimately fail due to one or more of the following:

    • Lack of clarity of the business case, and no strong perceived imperative to proceed
    • Unclear project ownership and poor branding for the scheme
    • Difficulty in adapting existing functional systems to operate with smart cards
    • Failure to get faculties, schools and administrative departments to work together
    • Not getting the best from suppliers or becoming ‘locked in’ to one
    • Introduction of new staff working practices meets resistance
    • Students and staff have no good reason to always carry their smart campus cards
    • Reputational damage due to poor planning and resulting delayed or unsuccessful launch
    • Uncertainty about the potential impact of Near Field Communication-based smartphones
    • Difficulty in handling cards for occasional visitors to campus
    • Difficulty in eliminating the use of cash at campus points of payment

    With our help, each of these may risks may be avoided or minimised, saving a great deal of time, money and pain!


    HESCA Limited has operated the Higher Education Smart Card Association since 2002.  This is a membership-based, educative forum for HEIs, FEIs and other sector stakeholders, that addresses all technical and operational aspects relating to the introduction, deployment and use of smart campus cards.  The group also considers new/disruptive technologies and form factors, currently majoring on smartphones and biometrics.  There are currently nearly 30 HEI and FEI members of HESCA, and the majority of suppliers to HE/FE smart campus schemes.

    We established this consulting service for three reasons:

      1. Many HEIs and FEIs introduce a scheme and appreciate the benefits it can bring but fear the apparent complexity of introducing smart campus cards, or of supporting multiple functions with a single card. Our collective experience has helped many institutions to overcome these fears and successfully launch and run smart schemes.


      1. Demand for completely independent, specialist advice and guidance continues to grow. Selection of appropriate suppliers, and contractual arrangements are complex and high-risk decisions.  We can help you navigate these processes successfully.


    1. Institutions often lack the internal resources to design, develop and manage the processes required for successful implementation of a smart campus scheme, and can become locked into long-term supplier products and services.  We can provide short-term, specialised cost-effective resources to supplement existing capacity and skill ranges and enable longer term self-sufficiency.



    HESCA Consulting Services offers support with smart campus schemes, from conception to delivery:

    • Orientation workshops to explain how smart campus card schemes work
    • Conduct of early-stage feasibility studies
    • Development of business cases, and business and financial plans and models
    • Provision of road-maps for the later addition of new functions using the smart campus cards
    • Assistance with the introduction of smartphones to replace smart cards, and with the management of parallel operation
    • Provision of specialised consultancy within all of the supported functional areas
    • Assistance with the design and operation of card bureaux, personalisation and issuance systems
    • Conduct of surveys, staff interviews and analysis of existing services and systems
    • Provision of lists of potential suppliers of required products and services
    • Assistance in development of ITTs, handling issuance and responses, and supplier selection
    • Assistance with card naming and general scheme branding strategy and marketing
    • Design of appropriate security and encryption processes
    • Development of value-add functions such as bursary distribution, meal plans, healthy eating programmes and loyalty schemes
    • Provision of project management services
    • Analysis of current network topography and technology required at each point of card service
    • Assistance with development of business and operational rules for card-related processes
    • Downstream assistance with testing, pilot, launch and rollout operations
    • Post-launch reviews and optimisation to ensure maximum benefits realisation

    If you think we can help and would like an initial exploratory meeting to clarify the needs and aspirations for your scheme, free of charge and without obligation, then please email or call 01440 712610.


    Smartex also provides a range of specialised services for local authorities and public transport operators that are considering or planning schemes using smart technology. Operating completely independently of any supplier, Smartex offers unbiased and objective assistance through its network of specialists, covering the following areas of expertise:

    • In-house orientation workshops
    • Feasibility studies
    • Business case development for new ventures
    • Project design and planning
    • Conduct of site surveys
    • Generation of Invitations to Tender
    • Assistance with supplier selection
    • Supplier contract drafting and negotiation
    • Systems integration
    • Card chip selection, and assistance with chip mapping
    • Card and system security architecture design
    • Database topography and design
    • Project management
    • Quality assurance
    • Business process re-engineering
    • Data capture systems
    • Bureau-based card personalisation
    • Data cleansing services
    • Education and training services

    Smartex has unrivalled connections, based on its operation since 1993 of the world’s largest network of professional associations dedicated to smart technology.  Its associates have many years of experience in the practical aspects of introducing complex schemes.  

    For further information, or to arrange a no-obligation meeting to discuss your requirements, please contact Richard Poynder on or 01440 712610.

  • Migrating to a smarter campus
    Conference: Exhibition: Workshop
    19th & 20th March 2019

    Marriott Royal Hotel, College Green, Bristol: 19th & 20th March 2019

     Event Invitation



    HESCA (the Higher Education Smart Campus Association) has pleasure in inviting you and/or a colleague to attend its annual conference and exhibition taking place on 19th & 20th March 2019.

    HESCA19 is the latest in a series of similar successful events that Smartex has run over the past 7 years in Southampton, Nottingham, Great Missenden, Brighton, Warwick, Glasgow, Cardiff and Cambridge.  This year, by popular vote, we shall be holding the event in Bristol.   See what people said about HESCA18 here.

    Attendance at HESCA19 is free-of-charge to invited non-member HEIs and FEIs and to all HESCA members (with attendance on both days counting as one day’s membership entitlement).  Other non-members may attend at a cost of £200 + VAT per day per delegate. 

    Why attend HESCA19?

    Outline agenda:


    • Migrating to smartphones for a smarter campus
      • The challenges of migration
      • New applications enabled by smartphones
    • Promoting student retention
      • The arithmetic of increased retention
      • Automating recording & monitoring
    • Effective authentication and authorisation through biometrics
      • Why biometrics? Which biometric?
      • Using smartphones as readers
    • Closed Loop Open Loop or Closed Loop + Open Loop for payments
      • The arithmetic
      • The practicalities
    • New applications for a smarter campus
      • Meeting students’ needs
      • Meeting the Institutions’ needs
    • Your questions answered


    • How to upgrade your access control system
    • How to upgrade your smart campus cards
    • How to accommodate the migration to mobile
    • How to upgrade your databases and network
    • Followed by supplier briefings

     Day 1 (Tuesday, 19th March) of HESCA19 provides a unique opportunity for you to learn about the many new developments in smart campus technology and applications, particularly the growing migration to smartphones as the form factor, and to biometrics as the authentication mechanism.  Pioneering HEIs will share with you how they are tackling ‘the cashless campus’, with some evidence of conversion to open-loop cEMV, reacting to students’ requests to provide useful apps for their ubiquitous smartphones – some replacing functions currently supported by smart cards and others that are exciting, brand-new applications – and how they are meeting the need for modern, effective digital identity and authentication techniques, primarily through biometrics.  These and other relevant and useful topics will be covered, including migration from Mifare Classic to DESfire, new perso techniques, the revolution in access control systems, attendance monitoring and IoT.

    On Day 2 (Wednesday, 20th March) we are planning a series of four plenary educational workshops covering the main technical and operational challenges for any Smart Campus, followed by a series of streamed Supplier Briefings, to which participating exhibitors may invite associates, partners or customers as guests.  These streams will be timed to ensure that suppliers with competing solutions will not run concurrently where possible.

    As always, leading suppliers, so far including HID Global (Overall Sponsor), EMOS Information Systems, Essentra Security, SALTO Systems, MCR Systems, OmniCard, Paragon ID, The ESP Group, Uniware Systems and VMC (UK), will be there throughout the event to demonstrate their new systems offerings, and you will have ample opportunities to talk to HEI/FEIs about their experiences of developing a smart campus. 

    Cocktail reception on 19th March 

    Our traditional cocktail reception, kindly sponsored by HID Global, will be held in the early evening of 19th March in the HESCA19 venue, to provide further opportunities for delegates, speakers and exhibitors to meet and share experiences and requirements.

    Evening dinner on 19th March

    The popular event dinner is taking place at a local restaurant, at 7.00pm on the evening of 19th March.  Delegates, speakers and exhibitors may reserve places with us for this dinner at their own cost (approx. £50 per head incl. VAT). 

    What's included in the deal?

    Included within these arrangements will be:

    • Participation at all sessions on both days
    • Access to all available presentation material
    • Refreshments on arrival and throughout both days, including two buffet luncheons and the drinks reception on the evening of 19th March

    Overnight accommodation 

    We have negotiated a preferential rate of £134 B&B per night for the nights of 18th and/or 19th March at the Marriott Royal Hotel for HESCA19 attendees.  To reserve a room(s), please Book your Smartex group rate.

    How to book to attend HESCA19

    To book your place at HESCA19, please complete the online booking form, or if you are interested in the very attractive rates for exhibiting at this event, please contact me at or on 01440 712610.

    Do of course let me know if you have any questions on the above, and we very much hope to welcome you at HESCA19 in Bristol in March.