The Future of Digital
Student Data Portability

Full Text of the Groningen Declaration

Groningen, 16 April 2012

Groningen Declaration on Digital Student Data Depositories Worldwide

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We, the signatories of this Groningen Declaration on Digital Student Data Depositories Worldwide, are witnessing a growing awareness in large parts of the worlds of politics and academics, as well as in public opinion, of the need to establish a more complete and far-reaching delivery of digital student data. As we see it, digital student data portability and digital student data depositories are becoming increasingly concrete and relevant realities, and in the years to come, they will contribute decisively to the free movement of students and skilled workers on a global scale.

In order to make this free movement of students and skilled workers a reality, and in order to unleash the full potential of digital student data depositories, we want to look into privacy rights, ownership of data, identification, access, and forwarding/sharing of data, next to compatibility of systems and comparability of data. Respecting the principle of autonomy and diversity of systems and modes of delivery, the overriding principle is to seek convergence rather than to create uniformity.

It is understood that there are more stakeholders involved than just the digital student data depositories themselves. These other stakeholders include, of course, first and foremost the students themselves; then education institutions at the primary, secondary and tertiary level; national ministries of education; employers; and so forth. This group of stakeholders would not be primarily concerned with the technical part, but with acceptance and recognition and is, as such, of vital importance for the acceptance of the goals of this declaration. These stakeholders are therefore naturally included among the signatories.

The Groningen Global Founding Seminar of Digital Student Data Depositories Worldwide that is now coming to a close aimed at gathering the critical mass that may bring about global momentum as the best possible way to bring about change. And the best way we can think of to continue, after the seminar, is through promoting concrete measures to achieve tangible forward steps.

The present declaration will take the above named issues as overarching themes for the road ahead.

We consider the following issues - ownership of data sets; privacy rights, identification; access; consulting; forwarding/sharing; compatibility; comparability; acceptance; and recognition - in order to establish a global area of convergence on digital student data depositories, and we pledge to share best practices in digital secure systems and to co-ordinate our policies on:

• the purpose, feasibility and cost-efficiency of worldwide exchange of digital student data
• the ways to make our systems more compatible, inter alia by looking into semantic interoperability
• the ways to make data more easily comparable
• sharing or forwarding of data through designated systems
• promoting acceptance, for purposes of recognition, of digital student data in lieu of paper documents
• adherence to national or federal privacy rights, both at the sending and at the receiving ends, when data are transferred
• phasing out of paper based documents and of paper based authentications (legalisations) where practicable
• establishment of a Global Standing Secretariat on Digital Student Data Depositories Worldwide, to develop a follow-up structure, consisting of a “consultative group” of representatives of all signatories, plus a smaller “follow-up group”, in order to organize future events.

We hereby undertake to attain these objectives within the framework of our respective organisational competencies, thereby fully respecting the diversity of current systems. To that end, we will mutually seek governmental, intergovernmental and/or non-governmental co-operation.