ZHAW has switched to edu-ID – with around 20,000 people!

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is using SWITCH edu-ID as replacement for the former AAI accounts and IdP since October 18. With currently around 20,000 persons with ZHAW affiliation, it is the largest university to date to use edu-ID.

Planning and reality

The ZHAW is one of the “Early Bird” universities that have already started planning the transition in 2017. The ZHAW coined the term “script cemetery” – a term for IdM processes that are based on many scripts difficult to maintain. The university therefore decided to replace its existing IdM. The edu-ID planning was part of this redesign project. Right from the start, the project manager succeeded in bringing all relevant stakeholders together at one table and also involving the departments where necessary, so that the migration plan was available in February 2018.

In this way, the ZHAW also made a significant contribution to smoothing the planning path for other universities.
Since spring 2018, the ZHAW has been one of the first universities (alongside FHNW) to use SWITCH edu-ID with the Evento extension for the online registration of students.
The complete conversion to edu-ID was scheduled for August 2019 – following the introduction of the new IdM and the re-implementation of the previous IdM processes at the ZHAW.
But it comes as it sometimes does: The project manager at the time left the university and the position could not be filled immediately afterwards. When a successor was found, the high-priority work had to be done before Thomas Betschart and his team could devote themselves to the pending tasks for the adoption of edu-ID. Just like his predecessor, he pushed the work forward with great speed. The feared delay largely remained absent and the ZHAW worked through the approximately 40 points on the technical checklist together with the SWITCH developers in the scheduled time window, so that the changeover could take place on a Friday in October.

Selected scenarios

At the ZHAW, different scenarios are used for different groups of people.

  • New students are registered via ONLA (online registration; scenario linking at registration) and the identifier is transferred to the ZHAW IdM via Evento.
  • New employees and continuing education students use the ZHAW linking service according to the scenario linking at admission.

The university’s own linking service was also used for existing employees and students who had enrolled before the ONLA was converted to be used with edu-ID. They were supposed to connect their edu-ID account to the local account before day X (before the conversion of the IdP).

Communication measures

The ZHAW informed its members early via newsletter about the upcoming change to edu-ID. Intensive communication via mail, website, instructions, etc. began when the ZHAW launched the linking service in July.

In the previous login mask, a clearly visible hint about the upcoming change was activated from this point on. This also allowed users to be picked up who were unsure whether they were affected by this change at all (e.g. employees).

For two of the most important services – Moodle and Mahara – a note with instructions was also placed on the application’s homepage so that users could find their way after the changeover without additional help.
As a result of these measures, many users had indeed linked their account before the changeover date. Support cases occurred primarily with people who had ignored the mails and information they had got previously. However, this number was manageable and could be handled well despite the weekend.


The essential steps have now been completed. The integration of the Push API is planned for the beginning of 2020 in order to further optimize offboarding.


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