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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).

  • 2018 Meetings

    Smartex Forum meetings, whilst planned in advance in terms of overall themes, are designed to cover important topics of the moment, whether technical or operational.

    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 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?
    • Us 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
    • HESCA18: Cambridge 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

  • 13th and 14th March 2018

    The Howard Theatre, Downing College, Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1DQ

    Introducing new technologies and products for a smarter smart campus

    HESCA18: Downing College, Cambridge: 13/14 March 2018


    What they said about this Smartex event


    “Thank you, we both really enjoyed the conference and the various presentations with lots of participation from the delegates.”

    “Well done on a great conference, it was very beneficial and informative.”

    “Thanks very much once again for putting on a great event.”

    “An amazing event as always, out-measured only in how informative it was.  I left with an abundance of literature and contact details, and more importantly, live case studies of how universities out in the field are utilising / embracing current technologies, based on cards and Apps.”

    “Just a quick e-mail to say ‘thank you’ for putting on an excellent event, it was most informative, particularly as we are currently in the process of upgrading our access control system. The networking opportunities were also well thought out, and I came away with a handful of business cards from suppliers whose products may well suit our needs.”

    “Many thanks to yourself, Richard and Josephine.  The conference was very interesting and informative.  It’s given me a lot to think about and to take back to my colleagues…”


    “We had a successful time at HESCA and made some great contacts.  Look forward to seeing you next year.”

    “We found the event enjoyable and worthwhile and were very pleased with the response to both the presentation and the briefing session.” 

    “The format you set out was very useful from a supplier perspective keeping it as a purely interactive session allowed us to gain input and feedback far more effectively than a chat around the lunch/coffee sessions.”

    “…add us to the list for next year please.”

    “Thanks again for all your hard work with the organisation - it was another really enjoyable couple of days.”

    “As I’ve not exhibited before I cannot make any comparisons with previous events but on face value can’t really think of how anything could have been done better than it was. One very positive comment is about the breakout sessions, thanks for talking me in to doing it, the concept is a great idea.”

    “I found the conference to be most informative and it certainly helped us to understand where the universities are heading.”

    “Many thanks to you both and to Richard for organising a very useful and enjoyable event. We had some very interesting and I think fruitful conversations which I hope will be the start of some meaningful professional relationships. The venue was excellent and the size of the event was just right.” 

    “Thank you for organising an enjoyable and successful event with your customary good cheer.”

    Lead Sponsor
  • HESCA News

    Updated on 7th December 2018

    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.)

    Australian schools testing facial recognition for attendance
    Schools in the Australian state of Victoria are trialing facial recognition from startup LoopLearn to monitor the whereabouts of students and save teachers time marking attendance, reports.

    RealNetworks gives away facial recognition solution to US schools
    Planet Biometrics
    A RealNetworks' programme called SAFR, was released Tuesday for free download on the company's website for kindergarten through 12th grade schools in the US and Canada.

    Australia: University develops large-scale 3D facial recognition system
    Researchers from The University of Western Australia have designed a new system capable of carrying out large-scale 3D

    Cyber attacks hit a fifth of schools and colleges
    Daily Sentinel
    One in five schools and colleges have fallen victim to cyber crime, according to research from the specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, yet the majority (74%) of educational establishments claim to be “fully prepared” to deal with such attacks.

    ASSA ABLOY Helps Enable Contactless Student IDs in Apple Wallet
    Markets Insider
    "ASSA ABLOY will leverage its expertise in mobile access to support Apple's efforts to make it easier to access dorm rooms with contactless student ...

    Using Apple Pay Cash precisely can make you appear petty, shows university study
    Apple Pay Cash and similar peer-to-peer payment apps offer a convenient way to settle-up with friends and family for things like shared meals, but a ...
    (…which is precisely why no-one uses it. Ed.)

    Apple teases student ID card for access and payments on Watch, iPhone
    The iPhone and Apple Watch will soon serve as a new student ID credential on campuses across the country following an announcement at the company’s 2018 WWDC keynote. Though Blackboard wasn’t mentioned by name in the keynote, each of the flagship campuses listed on stage is a Blackboard Transact client and the company has now confirmed its role alongside Apple in bringing this technology to the campus card industry.
    (This was in Smartexpress yesterday, but Ed. reckons it’s too important not to follow up. This is real news from Apple, and typical of its big-picture approach. Impress-Ed.)

    From the archives: Closed-loop vs. open-loop vending payments
    Payments via standard debit and credit cards, as well as payments via mobile device have posed a significant foe to the campus cards at the vending machine. In our 2016 coverage of the topic, we examined the role that campus vending plays in the open-loop vs. closed-loop debate.
    (A debate we need to keep airing in the UK. Ed.)







  • Create your own user feedback survey



    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.