Policy on Identity Verification


This policy describes the Student Identity Verification in Distance and Correspondence Education in compliance with US Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education Regulation 34 CFR 602.17(g).



Like many of our peer institutions, there are a number of courses at Downstate which utilize a mixed-methods approach to student learning. Most of these courses, however, still use traditional, in-class or in-lab evaluations and testing (including computer-based testing done on campus and under supervision of proctors and members of the faculty). The campus is in the process of updating its existing policies relating to courses that incorporate mixed or non-traditional methods of delivering course content. As a matter of policy, on an annual or semester basis (depending on how each individual school or college submits their course information), the Office of the Registrar obtains information from each course instructor as to whether their course is a distance learning course or has components that use distance learning.

At the present time, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University (DMC) does not have any programs that are, in their entirety, offered only by distance learning. The School of Public Health, the College of Nursing, and the College of Health Related Professions have each developed some online courses. The current model of instruction tends to be part of a course utilizing online materials, discussion boards, drop-boxes for assignment submission and other electronic formats available through our Course Management System (PRIME, utilizing the Angel Course Management software) but other parts of the course are taught in a traditional manner (e.g. classroom/lab), which serves to verify the confirmation of the identity of the student in the course. As of December, 2015, we have 16 courses that can be offered to students online in conjunction with other courses located on campus. We have convened a Distance Learning policy and implementation committee to monitor these efforts and set policy campus wide.

Methods used to ensure Student Identity Verification

Along with submitting applications that include identifying data, students matriculating into the Colleges of Medicine, Health Related Professions, Nursing, and the Schools of Public Health and Graduate Studies must complete a background check to further verify their identity. Downstate has a few non-matriculating students, primarily in the School of Public Health who are required to submit information such as Drivers License or Passport along with their application.

Access is then provided to the students upon acceptance using their SID (Student Identification Number) and secure password provided to them. This provides access to all relevant systems at Downstate for courses that the individual student that is enrolled in through our LMS (Learning Management System) and Banner system. A diagram of steps used to provision accounts is attached, along with an accompanying detailed description.

We are currently reviewing technology such as biometric Signature recognition and remote exam proctoring software as we plan for our expected increase in Distance Learning.

Methods used to ensure Student Privacy

Student records are kept within our Student Information system (Banner), which utilizes secure sockets layer communication (SSL) and is accessible only on campus or from off campus via VPN (Virtual Private Network). Staff are provisioned with accounts that provide access to information they need, and there is a monthly Team Leader meeting in which issues such as provisioning other access to information is vetted. We are in the first phase of planning to install an add-on to our system called Banner Data Security, which will allow more robust security features as well as better auditing capabilities.

Students have access to their own records through Banner Self Service and can view some grading information in our LMS. Both systems share the same secure password and while students can share their own information with whomever they choose, they are advised not to provide this access to others as it reveals very personal information. Students can change passwords online through the email system or via a request to the helpdesk which is detailed in the attached account creation flowchart.

Notification regarding extra costs related to Identity Verification (such as proctoring)

College of Medicine students pay for the Background check via a service provided by the AMCAS and the results are included in the application submission to DMC. Other students are informed of the process to acquire background checks as part of their application package. We do not currently ask students to incur any other costs related to this area.

Written procedures indicating offices responsible for the consistent application of Identity Verification

The offices of Student Affairs, Admissions, Academic and Library Computing, Information Security and the Helpdesk are responsible for the consistent application of Identity Verification. In addition to the workflow outlined on the attached diagram, representatives from the offices meet on a regular basis to review and look for improvement the processes as both policy and technology changes.

Statement Review and Approval

This statement and its contents have been reviewed and approved by the following individuals:

  • Daisy Cruz-Richman, PhD, RN – Dean and Professor, College of Nursing
  • Pascal J. Imperato, MD, MPH&TM, MACP – Dean and Distinguished Service Professor, School of Public Health
  • Margaret Kaplan, PhD, OTR/L – Interim Dean and Associate Professor, College of Health Related Professions
  • David Loewy – Information Security Officer
  • Dilip Nath – Associate Chief Information Officer
  • Carlos N. Pato, MD – Dean, College of Medicine
  • Jeffrey Putman, EdD – Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
  • Mark Stewart, MD, PhD – Dean, School of Graduate Studies, Vice Dean for Research

Input and review was also provided by Admissions, the Registrar’s Office, Academic Computing and the Helpdesk.

Read the full Student Identity Policy (PDF)

Last Updated: December, 2015