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3.9 Student Affairs and Services

Comprehensive Standard:

3.9.2 The institution protects the security, confidentiality, and integrity of student records and maintains security measures to protect and back up data. (Student records)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia stores electronic and paper records that encompass all areas of the students’ academic careers. The record storage includes but is not limited to records covering admission, registration, financial aid, billing, athletic, and other extracurricular activities. Access to these records is controlled and protected based on the sensitivity of the information, the format of the record, and the need to know. It should be noted that in accordance with the SACS Policy on "Distance and Correspondence Education" [1], the Institution controls and protects the records of all students regardless of the mode of delivery of the classes they take.  

The University of West Georgia adheres to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) [2] in educational records management. The Registrar’s Office [3] serves as the steward for educational records (excluding disciplinary and medical records) [4]. The Registrar’s staff is trained on FERPA requirements annually and has developed and applies a specific policy for the handling of sensitive and confidential information [3], [5]. Students, faculty, and staff are notified annually of their rights and responsibilities through publication of the Undergraduate Catalog [6], the Graduate Catalog [7] and the Student Handbook [8].  Student records are primarily stored electronically using Banner Student Information System and Banner Xtender Imaging software.  The University is currently in the process of imaging student records on a departmental basis. Therefore, all departments that handle student records will eventually image and them digitally. The policy on the storage of physical records can be found on the main University of West Georgia Policy website, under the "Records Storage" link [9].     

The Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid, and Admissions Office work in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) to ensure the security of electronic student records.

Individuals seeking access to non-directory information through the Banner Student Information System must have approval from the Registrar or the Registrar’s designee. Access is based on "need to know" and job responsibilities.  A signed confidentiality agreement is required to be on file for the individual college/department requesting the access.  See the following documents: Banner Accounts - Rules and Agreement forms [10], System Administrator Security Practices [11], Banner Student Information System Employee Creation [12], and ITS Security Training List [5].

The Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid, Admissions Office, and Office of Institutional Planning and Research work closely with the University’s Information Security Officer to ensure privacy, provide security training, and expand awareness of data and records management and handling. These activities emphasize compliance with FERPA, data security, the importance of a formalized and controlled approach to properly disclosing student information, and the protection of personally identifiable information (PII).

In accordance with the University’s IT Security Plan [13] the Banner Student Information System is maintained by the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). The networks and system associated with the Banner Student Information System are maintained and protected in accordance with applicable security laws, regulations, guidelines, standards, and policies in order to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data maintained the System.    

The Office of ITS also ensures the proper backup of the Banner Student Information System and associated data  [14]. Daily backups are performed on the database and stored at secure locations on campus and a secure off-sight location. Incremental backups of the System, operating system, and applications are performed every other day and a full backup is performed on a weekly basis. Copies of these backups are also stored in a secure location on campus. Additional copies are stored at two (2) separate off-sight locations.

Student data, records, and information associated with the Banner Student Information System are essential to the business of the University. In order to facilitate and expedite the recovery of the System in the event of a disaster the University has created the following documents: 1) The UWG Records Disaster Management Plan [15] (maintained by Institutional Research and Planning); and 2) The ITS Disaster Response and Recovery Plan Planning document [16] (maintained by Information Technology Services).

Supporting Documentation: