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European Student Card Initiative

Part of the Erasmus+ programme

The European Student Identifier

A digital identifier which is designed to uniquely recognise students across institutions and countries throughout their study period abroad. It is specifically tailored for study abroad programmes like Erasmus+. It means student information can be securely and efficiently shared between institutions.


When students participate in an Erasmus+ study exchange, the sending and receiving institutions must share essential information about the students and their study plans to facilitate administrative processes before, during, and after the study mobility. The institutions need to connect the student's identity with their records to handle the digital exchange of information securely and efficiently during the entire process.

The European Student Identifier (ESI) is shared between the relevant higher education institutions as part of the data exchange via the Erasmus Without Paper network. The ESI is currently used in digital learning agreements, the European Student Card, the EWP Dashboard, and the Erasmus+ app.

Example of use

A student who is going to start an exchange needs to request approval of their learning agreement – the document which sets out their programme of studies while on exchange.

To do this, their digital identity needs to be securely linked to this agreement. A European Student Identifier is created for them by their sending higher education institution.

This ensures a reliable match with their application or registration in the databases of both the sending and receiving institutions.

Benefits for higher education institutions

The ESI is a unique, persistent, and portable identifier designed to facilitate student mobility and streamline administrative processes within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and potentially beyond.

It means

  • reduced administrative burden: ESI offers standardised digital identification to reduce institutions’ administrative burden
  • reliability: ESI replaces less secure identifiers like names, emails, or dates of birth to uniquely correlate the student identity with their records
  • simplification: ESI allows institutions to support Single Sign-On for mobile students when they log in to digital services

Generating an ESI

If you are a student, you do not need to worry about this task. Your home institution will do this for you.

The ESI is a technical task. It is generated and maintained by the IT department in the student’s home higher education institution and released when the student logs into Erasmus Without Paper services.

For institutions that are part of eduGAIN, the global infrastructure that connects identity federations operated in the higher education sector, the ESI is released as one of the user attributes when the student authenticates (via Single Sign-On, SSO) to one of the Erasmus Without Paper services.

Higher education institutions that are not in eduGAIN are supported via a dedicated solution that also manages the ESI for their Erasmus+ students.


Higher education institutions can contact their eduGAIN Federation or national research and education network (NREN) for more information.

You can also get in touch with the ESCI Service Desk in case of any questions or to get support.

Tagged in:  European Student Card Initiative