Access to buildings, identification, cafeteria/food courts, library, bookstore purchases, printing and vending, in that order, are the leading applications for which American college students use their school-issued cards, says a study on the subject.

Data from independent research, Effective Management of Safe & Secure Openings & Identities and Ingersoll Rand, also showed that 76 percent of colleges still use a magnetic stripe card, even though students are the leading first adapters for new technologies.  Only 31 percent of them are using proximity cards, 16 percent are using proximity fobs/tokens, 10 percent are using biometrics and nine percent are using smart cards.  Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies earlier reported (September 8, 2011) that the same study showed that only 18 percent of colleges believe their security access control is effective.

Four year colleges are more likely than two-year colleges to use picture IDs to manage identities, the study says. Large colleges are most likely to use biometrics, proximity and smart cards, while small schools were least likely to do so.  Biometrics are used more by city/urban colleges as opposed to rural/countryside schools. The University of California-Irvine, with 22,000 students is an example.

Four-year colleges are more likely to use credentials for bookstore, vending and cafeteria purchases, laundry, library and retail off campus than two-year colleges while publicly funded colleges use credentials more for printing, transportation and as a debit card on/off campus than private schools, the study says. Colleges in cities/urban areas use credentials for historical/student records, printing, secure computer log-in, time and attendance and transportation while small town colleges use credentials for library checkout.  Rural schools use them for identification and suburban schools use credentials for access to buildings.

The places where schools undertook visual identity checks (VICs) also varied as to the type of school, the study says. Four-year colleges are more likely than two-year schools to do VICs in dorms and cafeterias and at recreational facilities and sporting events. Publicly funded schools were more likely to do VICs at their child care facilities while private schools emphasized sporting events, says the study. Colleges in the suburbs did more VICs in their cafeterias and libraries while city/urban schools deployed VICs at their recreational facilities. Mid-sized schools were more likely to do VICs in their cafeterias.  Large schools were more likely to not use people to perform VICs at all.