Ukraine’s research and education (R&E) community can access many vital services and resources through the eduGAIN service that is provided by URAN Association with support from the EU-funded EaPConnect project. More than 200 members of the Ukrainian R&E community learned in a recent URAN webinar how eduGAIN simplifies access and enables greater possibilities for participation in international collaborations. Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University is the first in Ukraine to use eduGAIN, opening new opportunities for its students.
URAN, the Ukrainian Research and Academic Network Association held the webinar on 26 May 2021 to bring its user community up to date on eduGAIN, which is a keystone service that enables use of a wide range of other vital services and resources.
Ukraine has signed an Association Agreement with the European Union, and one condition of this is the integration of science and education in Ukraine into the European system. The pan-European GÉANT Association is recognised by the European Commission as a provider of IT services for education and science and it has a large number of services. eduGAIN was designed to ensure that all participating federations play by the same rules and that services are provided according to uniform standards, in one language, to avoid any misunderstandings in terms of service provision or security of personal data transfer from one operator to another.”
What is eduGAIN?
The expansion of international cooperation between universities and research centres, and the increasing use of services for e-learning, data exchange and library access, led to a need for a shared pool of online services and resources to be made accessible through an integrated, federated system. eduGAIN allows users to simply and securely access the services available using a single account that is provided by their R&E ‘home institution’. Today, eduGAIN interconnects 72 national research and education identity federations, more than 4000 institutions and more than 3000 services.
The ‘owner’ of the eduGAIN service in the EU-funded GÉANT (GN4-3) Project, Davide Vaghetti (GARR), provided more information during the May webinar. He explained what eduGAIN and identity federations are; the services and resources that are currently available; the benefits for science and education; and defined the key Authentication and Authorisation Infrastucture (AAI) elements at eduGAIN’s heart: identity providers, service providers, and the single sign-on discovery service.
Nowadays, eduGAIN supports a complex ecosystem of Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructures composed of national identity federations and large international research infrastructures.”
A key to yet more services
eduGAIN has become an important building block in several other GÉANT services for research and education. eduTEAMS enables the creation and management of virtual teams and the secure access and sharing of common resources. InAcademia allows students and staff from participating institutions to access or buy online services and products while protecting their privacy. MyAcademicID gives students who participate in international mobility programmes the ability to access Erasmus+ online tools and services. Moreover, eduGAIN lets subscriber instituions in identity federations share academic journal access services worldwide.
Webinar participants were interested in how eduGAIN can improve relations between Ukrainian and European educational institutions. Davide answered: “The most important, most useful thing that the many participants in the process should NOT do is to enter into direct agreements with each other. This function is taken over by eduGAIN and this is what simplifies and improves the interactions.”
Yevhenii Preobrazhenskyi added that Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University is the first in Ukraine to use eduGAIN in an identification system. Its students can log in through eduGAIN to MyAcademicID, which allows them to use Erasmus+ applications and will ultimately enable their participation in a European Union electronic student identity card scheme.
A technical presentation was delivered by Oleg Yurchenko of URAN Association. He referred to authentication methods in web applications, talked about single sign-on (SSO) technology, and described the Ukrainian identity federation PEANO, for which URAN is an operator. He also gave examples of URAN’s use of eduGAIN – in the ‘WebClass’ virtual platform for training and conferences; for secure access to the URAN office network and other scientific networks via the GÉANT eduVPN service; and in the services FileSender, OpenStack, webmail, and Zabbix.
The May 2021 eduGAIN webinar was one in a series that URAN Association has been providing to its R&E community to bring them up to date on its current portfolio of digital services. A webinar on eduGAIN technology for R&E community technical staff is now being planned – the date, in the coming months, is to be confirmed.