Higher Education Reference Models

Higher Education Reference Models

The Higher Education Reference Models (HERM) provide standardised business, data, and application architectures that communicate a generalised view of how higher education institutions are organised and the information they use. The HERM also includes a Business Model Canvas to support scenario-based planning and for exploring and communicating an institution’s specific strategic drivers and goals.

These resources can be used by institutions within higher education in a variety of ways, such as a starter kit to accelerate an institution’s business and data architecture, a reference point to explore commonalities and differentiators for the institution, and a communication tool to engage stakeholders.

The Higher Education Reference Models help members to:

  • increase the value and efficiency of their architecture teams
  • describe a ‘whole of institution’ view to colleagues within their institution
  • facilitate the exchange of architectural knowledge and good practice in the sector
  • support interoperability and collaboration between member organisations  
  • improve engagement with industry in major projects and initiatives

Community Involvement & Versions

Community Involvement

The ongoing development and enhancement of the Higher Education Reference Models is community-driven, and all suggestions and feedback are warmly and always encouraged.  Queries about the Higher Education Reference Models can be directed to:

Nigel Foxwelljeff kennedy
James Cook UniversityThe University of Auckland

Additionally, international colleagues are encouraged to access copies of the HERM resources and to engage with the use and ongoing enhancement of the HERM as follows:

  • UCISA members through the UCISA Enterprise Architecture Special Interest Group;
  • EDUCAUSE members through the ITANA Enterprise, Business, & Technical Architects Community Group; 
  • EUNIS members through the EUNIS Enterprise Architecture Special Interest Group

International Collaboration

The ongoing evolution and enrichment of the Higher Education Reference Models would be impossible without the warm global collaboration between the CAUDIT HERM Working Group, our colleagues in the United Kingdom through UCISA, other European colleagues through EUNIS, and our North American colleagues through EDUCAUSE. The value and usefulness of the HERM is enriched, amplified, and increased enormously by the expertise, engagement, and generous contributions of the worldwide higher-education enterprise architecture community.


Version 1 of these models was launched in 2016, following the generous agreement between FromHereOn (https://www.fromhereon.com) and CAUDIT. The CAUDIT Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice is responsible for the curation and evolution of the Higher Education Reference Models. Subsequently, Version 2 of the Business Capability Model was released in May 2019 and Version 2.5.0 was launched in October 2020 with a consolidated refresh of both the Data Reference Model and the Business Capability Model. The Version 2.6.0 release made in September 2021 introduced the Business Model Canvas, and Version 2.6.1 followed in August 2022.

The latest release of the Higher Education Reference Models, Version 3.0.0, includes many new features and improvements, and introduces the HERM Application Reference Model.

Preparations are already underway for the next release, Version 3.1.0, which will introduce the HERM Technology Reference Model in mid-2024.

Download the Models

The reference models published here are provided in formats that will allow them to be loaded into common modelling and repository tools. The entire distribution of the Higher Education Reference Models is provided in a single ZIP archive.

Access to the models by CAUDIT Member organisations 

CAUDIT Member organisations can access the models using Tuakiri or AAF authentication. You will be prompted to log-in using your everyday organisational username/password. Download the models here.

Access by international higher education organisations 

To date the models have been distributed to more than a thousand institutions worldwide. The HERM distribution has also been provided to some higher-education information-technology associations to make available by natural access to their own members. Accordingly, you can access the HERM easily if your institution is a member of:

  • UCISA, send a request by email to admin@ucisa.ac.uk
  • EDUCAUSE, visit the EDUCAUSE Library and login
  • EUNIS, send a request by email to execsupport@ucisa.ac.uk

If your institution is not a member of one of those associations then you are encouraged to engage with your local Enterprise Architecture community and to request HERM access from CAUDIT by sending an email to caudit@caudit.edu.au

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