RFID Wristbands: The Future for School, College & University Systems

Do you use radio frequency identification chips in your university, college or school system? Sick and tired of students losing their ID cards, the scan code wearing away or the breakable factor of a piece of plastic?

This week we’ve been giving the reality of radio frequency identification wristbands a thought and suggest universities, colleges and schools who use the technology in their identification cards could repackage them into wristbands.

It’s easy to point out that RFID wristbands, with their smart card contactless and cashless features, are an innovative and fashionable piece of tech, but it’s a bit harder to pinpoint how they can benefit your business. Many would assume wristbands are for festivals, concerts, social gatherings, sports events, etc. That is not the case.


Let’s take a particular look at schools:


With the progression of technology, educational institutes are focusing on easier, securer, and beneficial tech to advance their teaching and students learning experience. This progression included the introduction of student ID cards, which contained a picture of the student and a barcode or magnetic stripe that linked to the institutes network server. While a definitive move, the wear and tear of swiping cards affected the card’s lifespan and radio frequency cards were introduced.


Since we’re bordering on boring you with tech history, let’s get back to RFID wristbands:


RFID wristbands come in two types:


Silicone bands

The chip is inserted inside the band so you cannot see it.

Fabric bands

The chip is a tag which has been threaded through the centre of the band so it is visible for scanning.


The chip contains information specific to the institute and the wearer of the wristband. In the case of a school, college or university, this data can include:

  • Student name
  • Student photo
  • Student identification number
  • Institute information

The information on the chip is linked to the institutes server, so that every time a student taps in, the chip data is sent via radio waves to the school system and their action is logged.


Good for, attendance, emergency and building safety. Which moves on to…


Access & Entry


While schools tend to use the old ‘register’ method, higher education tend to go for the more techno approach. Both are right. Children under the age of eleven are less likely to remember an identification card every day. (It’s hard enough just getting them to put their shoes on!) Though, I sympathise with children whose names are ‘unique’ and for teachers who have to pronounce them. There’s nothing worse than calling someone by the wrong name.

Higher educational institutes are on to something with identification cards. You just tap in when the lesson starts and tap out when the lesson ends. (A bit like an Oyster card, but without the money exchange.) No more embarrassing name fiascos and certainly less dread felt for both parties. The same works for opening doors and accessing classrooms. Just tap and go. If only… there’s always one who forgets their card.


Once a wristband is on, it’s on.

You could argue the same about a lanyard card, but let’s not forget our target audience.

  1. Persons aged between 11 and 21+ is a vast age gap. Youngsters and teenagers are less likely to wear lanyards than say 20+ year old university students.
  2. Silicone and Fabric bands are more durable than a plastic card.
  3. RFID cards are protected by their wristband material whereas individual cards are more likely to be damaged unless kept in their lanyard pass (which is a pain as you have to get the card out to tap in every time you walk in a room!)
  4. Can you imagine how tiring it must be for security and gate guards to try and spot every ID card that comes through the door? Some wear it around their neck, some tuck it in the pocket, some put it in their bag, some lose it, some forget it, some break it etc… it takes time and effort to view every students card. (Not to mention arrange a replacement!)
  5. Wristbands offer clearer vision and less time, meaning staff and students can get straight on with their day.


And right to the canteen…


No Cash, No Problem


Primary schools work with a simple dinner routine: pack lunch vs school dinner. Menus are handed out at the start of the week and children sign up to what they want. We have a helping hand with school dinner wristbands, but that’s for another blog post

Secondary schools work with either cash or student dinner cards (yes, that is a thing). Again, the thing about cash and cards are – you guessed it – people forget them.

RFID wristbands are contactless which means you can adjust your students chip to work with any school system that benefits your business, your staff and you students.


For example:


  1. RFID wristbands can work as a bursary card for university students, saving queue times in university shops and for city students, you can top up your Oyster card with a tap of your wrist.
  2. Why stop at bursary allowances? Students / Parents could upload a money allowance for school meals, reducing queue times and those who forgot money, card (or lunch for that matter) a backup.
  3. Link your student RFID wristbands to school transport and libraries, allowing pupils to flow to and from lesson without a hitch
  4. The best bit, not only can RFID wristbands open doors in the building and log students into their lessons, the chip sends all information straight through to your business system so that book you just loaned from the library, or that bus you just caught, the lesson you just logged into, it all goes automatically on system so office staff are not chasing attendance reports or unreturned books, and can get on with their duties.


It’s a case of: High security in Less time.

Although, you need to bear in mind the debate of student privacy.


Privacy – The debate of the Passive or Active RFID chip


RFID chips are excellent at tracking. That is overall what makes them an asset in large buildings such as schools, colleges and universities. All chips are unique to their wearer so tapping into a classroom reader or loaning out a library book on your wristband, it all goes automatically onto the system and thousands of students’ actions can be recorded in minutes.

While the above is great for business, you need to think of your consumers and get the right RFID chip for both you and them. There are two types of RFID chips: Active and Passive. An active chip, depending on the frequency, can be tracked from 200 feet away. Since the wristbands will be used for school purposes, the best choice would be a passive chip, which only works when in contact with a reader, providing essential information for office records, while still providing privacy for students.


The advantages of RFID Wristbands


  • Audience appropriate
  • Sizes to fit various ages
  • Less likely to be lost
  • Easy for security to spot
  • Excellent tracking
  • Durable
  • Designed to your business: colour, text, font, etc


So, what are your thoughts? Do you think RFID wristbands are something your school could benefit from?