Do I Need to Pay Attention to the New EU Regulation about Data? Yes!

By Ellen Peters, Director of Institutional Research, and Jamie Daniel, Deputy CIO, University of Puget Sound; Leah Ewing Ross, Senior Director for Research and Initiatives, AIR

April-2018-eAIR-Lead-Graphic.pngOn May 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect. It strengthens data protections for EU residents as well as people and organizations who do business in the EU, even if they are not located in the EU.

GDPR specifies that people own and control their data. It requires consent from individuals for what data are collected and retained, how long data are maintained before being expunged, and provides allowances for individuals to request that their data be removed from systems.

Higher education professionals in the United States need to learn what the GDPR entails and how our institutions are held accountable to it.

Some things to think about:

  • International students from the EU

  • Faculty on sabbatical in the EU

  • Students studying in the EU

  • Programs operating in the EU

  • Alumni and donors living in the EU

Institutional research can provide leadership in understanding the impact of GDPR by convening and collaborating offices that work with programs and data likely to be most involved with this regulation, including admissions, financial aid, human resources, information technology, registrar, and study abroad.

Given the newness of GDPR and its broad scope, the full implication is not yet known, and higher education organizations, including AIR, continue to monitor its effect on American higher education overall and IR specifically.

The GDPR overview and regulation text provide data-related definitions and describe obligations and relevant penalties. In addition, several U.S. organizations offer insight and explanation of the effect of GDPR on American colleges and universities:

  • AACRAO (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers)

  • CUPA-HR (College and University Professional Association for Human Resources)


  • NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) and The Common Application

  • NAFSA (Association of International Educators)

  • NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators)

  • WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies)

What questions or insight do you have about GDPR? Join the conversation on AIR's LinkedIn discussion group. You can also leave a comment below.



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