Higher Education Smart

Campus Association (HESCA)

HESCA’s aim is to provide Higher Education establishments with a platform for debate on smart card technology issues relevant to their business objectives.

HESCA endeavours to provide an opportunity to explore the technology in detail; the standards, software, hardware, applications and integration, aiming to develop a mechanism by which a series of cost-effective solutions is available to its members.

HESCA meetings, each of a full day’s duration, take place quarterly. They include a number of presentations from British and international specialists, and provide valuable opportunities for members to explore the smart card marketplace in a non-sales environment.

Themed full-day quarterly Forum meetings have several specialist-led sessions, with ample breaks for networking.  In the background, voluntary working groups are being established to consider topical issues, and to submit written recommendations to the members of HESCA.

What a member says:

“HESCA meetings have offered an invaluable opportunity to obtain insight into the world of smart card technology and the variety of potential applications.  As the group is attended by colleagues from other HEIs, there is also an opportunity for networking and to share issues and solutions.”

David Manfield, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

Hesca Supplier Directory – for the latest HESCA service for HEI’s seeking suppliers for their smart campus card projects (under construction).


This Forum meets quarterly.  Amongst the topics and activities that we shall be addressing are:

  • Developing an effective attendance monitoring system to support a student engagement and retention strategy
  • Smart campus schemes as part of an ID Assurance programme
  • New techniques for enrolment, card issuance processes and procedures
  • Coping with GDPR
  • Is the Cloud relevant to smart campuses and how?
  • Use of new smart technologies such as AI and IoT
  • The potential impact of smartphones on smart campus card schemes
  • The use of biometrics in HEI/FEIs: products, software, standards and choices
  • Towards the cashless campus: products and challenges: do bank cards have a role?
  • Presentations by e-payment system providers: open or closed-loop?
  • The business and financial cases and plans for introducing cashless campus routines
  • The emerging new generation of physical access control system architectures
  • Using smart campus schemes for logical and system access control
  • Supporting innovative new functions with existing smart campus schemes
  • Case studies from UK and overseas smart campus card schemes
  • Successful strategies for card migration to a higher security form factor
  • Development of statements of best practice for HEI/FEIs
  • Development and progress of the HESCA Starter Pack for integrated supplier products
  • Smart card vending in a smart campus. What are the benefits?
  • Migration of existing legacy systems to a smart environment: the challenges
  • Strategies for room utilisation systems for a smart campus
  • Smart Card online store services: what are the benefits?
  • A dedicated university app: Integration with smart card services: strategies: one app to rule them all?
  • Smart car parking in a smart campus: what are the benefits?
  • Smart card production: in-house or bureau? Pros and cons.
  • HESCA19: Bristol is the location for our annual two-day regional conference & exhibition


Meeting Dates and Agendas

Smartex Forums are membership-based with an in-advance membership fee structure designed to suit the entire range of interests in smart technology, biometrics, smart payments, prepaid, RFID tags, M2M and NFC, and to accommodate differing time and budgetary resources.

Comprehensive information about member services and benefits, and about Forum subjects and plans for the next year are provided in the 11 sub-sections listed below. These include details of how to join, and a membership application form.

If you have any questions or comments about membership, please don’t hesitate to contact the Smartex office on +44(0)1440 712610, or at richard@smartex.com, and we will do our best to help you.

Members have access to restricted content.

To access presentations from past meetings of our forums, click on the links below:



Smart Payments Forum

Mobile & Identity Forum

Internet of Things Association

International Biometrics Forum – coming soon

Delegates’ Area

Delegates have access to presentations from the latest Smartex meeting.

Delegate Presentations


A Smartex Group company


There are a number of reasons why you may be considering the introduction or expansion of a smart campus card scheme, or migration towards the replacement of smart cards with smartphones as the portable token for students and staff.  These could include:

  • Reduction in the numbers of cards and tokens requiring to be held
  • The need to avoid reputational damage from the use of MIFARE Classic-chipped cards
  • The necessity to meet student demand for the use of smartphones as the token of choice
  • Reduction and streamlining of manual/administrative functions for staff
  • Creation of a modern image for your institution
  • Enhancement of security surrounding physical and system access control
  • Support for an identity assurance programme
  • Reduction or elimination of the use of cash on campus
  • Improvement of the general student experience



The introduction of any new pervasive, fast-changing technology can be challenging, and we have seen schemes set out with good intentions but ultimately fail due to one or more of the following:

  • Lack of clarity of the business case, and no strong perceived imperative to proceed
  • Unclear project ownership and poor branding for the scheme
  • Difficulty in adapting existing functional systems to operate with smart cards
  • Failure to get faculties, schools and administrative departments to work together
  • Not getting the best from suppliers or becoming ‘locked in’ to one
  • Introduction of new staff working practices meets resistance
  • Students and staff have no good reason to always carry their smart campus cards
  • Reputational damage due to poor planning and resulting delayed or unsuccessful launch
  • Uncertainty about the potential impact of Near Field Communication-based smartphones
  • Difficulty in handling cards for occasional visitors to campus
  • Difficulty in eliminating the use of cash at campus points of payment

With our help, each of these may risks may be avoided or minimised, saving a great deal of time, money and pain!


HESCA Limited has operated the Higher Education Smart Card Association since 2002.  This is a membership-based, educative forum for HEIs, FEIs and other sector stakeholders, that addresses all technical and operational aspects relating to the introduction, deployment and use of smart campus cards.  The group also considers new/disruptive technologies and form factors, currently majoring on smartphones and biometrics.  There are currently nearly 30 HEI and FEI members of HESCA, and the majority of suppliers to HE/FE smart campus schemes.

We established this consulting service for three reasons:

  1. Many HEIs and FEIs introduce a scheme and appreciate the benefits it can bring but fear the apparent complexity of introducing smart campus cards, or of supporting multiple functions with a single card. Our collective experience has helped many institutions to overcome these fears and successfully launch and run smart schemes.
  2. Demand for completely independent, specialist advice and guidance continues to grow. Selection of appropriate suppliers, and contractual arrangements are complex and high-risk decisions.  We can help you navigate these processes successfully.
  3. Institutions often lack the internal resources to design, develop and manage the processes required for successful implementation of a smart campus scheme, and can become locked into long-term supplier products and services.  We can provide short-term, specialised cost-effective resources to supplement existing capacity and skill ranges and enable longer term self-sufficiency.


HESCA Consulting Services offers support with smart campus schemes, from conception to delivery:

  • Orientation workshops to explain how smart campus card schemes work
  • Conduct of early-stage feasibility studies
  • Development of business cases, and business and financial plans and models
  • Provision of road-maps for the later addition of new functions using the smart campus cards
  • Assistance with the introduction of smartphones to replace smart cards, and with the management of parallel operation
  • Provision of specialised consultancy within all of the supported functional areas
  • Assistance with the design and operation of card bureaux, personalisation and issuance systems
  • Conduct of surveys, staff interviews and analysis of existing services and systems
  • Provision of lists of potential suppliers of required products and services
  • Assistance in development of ITTs, handling issuance and responses, and supplier selection
  • Assistance with card naming and general scheme branding strategy and marketing
  • Design of appropriate security and encryption processes
  • Development of value-add functions such as bursary distribution, meal plans, healthy eating programmes and loyalty schemes
  • Provision of project management services
  • Analysis of current network topography and technology required at each point of card service
  • Assistance with development of business and operational rules for card-related processes
  • Downstream assistance with testing, pilot, launch and rollout operations
  • Post-launch reviews and optimisation to ensure maximum benefits realisation

If you think we can help and would like an initial exploratory meeting to clarify the needs and aspirations for your scheme, free of charge and without obligation, then please email richard@smartex.com or call 01440 712610.


Smartex also provides a range of specialised services for local authorities and public transport operators that are considering or planning schemes using smart technology. Operating completely independently of any supplier, Smartex offers unbiased and objective assistance through its network of specialists, covering the following areas of expertise:

  • In-house orientation workshops
  • Feasibility studies
  • Business case development for new ventures
  • Project design and planning
  • Conduct of site surveys
  • Generation of Invitations to Tender
  • Assistance with supplier selection
  • Supplier contract drafting and negotiation
  • Systems integration
  • Card chip selection, and assistance with chip mapping
  • Card and system security architecture design
  • Database topography and design
  • Project management
  • Quality assurance
  • Business process re-engineering
  • Data capture systems
  • Bureau-based card personalisation
  • Data cleansing services
  • Education and training services

Smartex has unrivalled connections, based on its operation since 1993 of the world’s largest network of professional associations dedicated to smart technology.  Its associates have many years of experience in the practical aspects of introducing complex schemes.  

For further information, or to arrange a no-obligation meeting to discuss your requirements, please contact Richard Poynder on richard@smartex.com or 01440 712610.