With the dematerialization of physical documents and the digitalization of the application process, electronic signatures are the natural next step to completing the digital transformation of admissions in higher education, strengthening trust in signed documents by granting them legal and cyber protection. This article explains how and why you should implement e-signing. ✍️
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What is e-signing and how does it apply to Full Fabric?
An overview of how electronic signatures work and their main benefits
The digitalization of business operations and the consequent obsolescence of paper documents brought about the need for a way to authenticate the identity of signers and the integrity of the signed data – in other words, to replace wet signatures with a legally valid alternative.
E-signing – the process of authenticating an electronic transaction with an electronic signature – was then introduced, gradually becoming the new norm in a wide range of documents, such as contracts, medical certificates, powers of attorney, and others.
Electronic signatures eliminate the lengthy process of printing, signing and then scanning and/or (e)mailing paper documents, saving time, money and the environment all at once. Similarly, mandatory steps and easy prompts eradicate the risk of missing or misplaced signatures and reduce the chance of other human errors, resulting in a more efficient workflow.
That said, not all electronic signatures are created equal, and different types afford varying degrees of security. The best e-signing methods employ end-to-end encryption and tamper-proofing mechanisms like audit trails, timestamping, and secure storage to ensure data integrity, protection against fraudulent attacks, and non-repudiation.
Rest assured, electronic signatures are legally binding and enforceable in many countries around the world, including the entirety of the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. 🌍
E-signing and Full Fabric
Applications can be digitally signed in Full Fabric. As we've seen from the above information, electronic signatures are backed by sophisticated encryption technology and strong regulation. Therefore, they give greater legal weight to your terms and conditions and improve upon the standard admissions process by making it more secure and reliable for all parties involved – with no detriment whatsoever to the application experience, as signing an application is quick, easy, and simple. 😃 Continue reading to learn the particulars of how electronic signing can be implemented and what it looks like for candidates.
(Psst! We plan to support electronic signing on letters in the future, so stay tuned for more exciting news! 😉)
What service does Full Fabric use to handle digital signing and how do I integrate with it?
Full Fabric has partnered with DocuSign to offer applicants the ability to electronically sign application forms. DocuSign is a leading all-in-one solution that supports all levels of electronic signatures and complies with the latest legal guidelines for the use of electronic signatures in e-commerce. DocuSign can be used anywhere, anytime, from one's computer, tablet, or mobile device.
Recommended reading from DocuSign:
Connecting a DocuSign account to a Full Fabric instance
To connect Full Fabric to DocuSign, you need a DocuSign account. The account in question must have permission to create envelopes (the packages in which applications are sent to applicants for e-signing) and request signatures. 💌 If you already have such an account, simply follow the steps below to activate the integration:
1) Press the gear on the top right-hand corner and select General settings
2) Go to Integrations
3) Choose DocuSign under Other
4) Insert your Account ID and your Impersonated Profile ID
5) Click the button Authenticate to be redirected to DocuSign's login page
6) Lastly, enter your login credentials to sign in and complete the authentication flow
Once the integration is up and running, a Digital Signature tab will appear in each of your school's application templates, from which you will be able to enable DocuSign and insert the terms and conditions text that candidates must see and accept when signing.
NOTE: Please get in touch with us if you do not have access to the Integrations tab.
Enabling electronic signatures for an application template
As previously alluded to, enabling DocuSign for application templates is done on a template-by-template basis. To enable DocuSign for a specific application template, please do as follows:
1) Access the relevant application template
2) Open the tab Digital Signature
3) Flick the toggle next to DocuSign digital signature is required for application submission to turn it on
4) Finally, define the Page header title and the Page content
Together, the fields Page header title and Page content comprise the legal notices and stipulations presented to applicants during the application signing process. They are, to put it another way, the contractual rights and obligations for which you are seeking a signed agreement. As demonstrated below, this information is added to its own page in the application PDF, immediately above the applicant's signature and before the attachments:
TIP: Consider displaying a confirmation modal referencing DocuSign when applicants attempt to submit their applications (configured in the Submission tab). For example:
How do applicants electronically sign applications and where can they download their signed applications?
E-signing an application is easy and takes only a short moment! 🙌 In this section, we will walk you through the basic DocuSign signing process so that you are fully familiar with it and can assist applicants. Without further ado…
Part 1: The kick-off
E-signing is required for submission whenever DocuSign is enabled for an application template. As a result, both actions are combined into a single button, SIGN & SUBMIT, which applicants must press after filling out every compulsory field in their application forms:
Part 2: Leaving Full Fabric for DocuSign
When applicants hit SIGN & SUBMIT, both they and the PDF version of their applications are promptly sent to DocuSign, where the signing will take place:
Part 3: Voluntarily and explicitly opting in to electronic signatures
Once at DocuSign, the first thing applicants are requested to do is tick the statement I agree to use electronic records and signatures, after which they must press CONTINUE to proceed to the signing stage:
Part 4: E-signing the application
At the signing stage, applicants are given their applications to sign and instructed on where to click to do the signing:
Part 4.1: Designing a custom electronic signature (only for first-timers)
In addition, first-timers to DocuSign are asked to adopt a signature after clicking on the Sign tag. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, namely by uploading, drawing, or using a computer-generated signature. Once an applicant is happy with his or her signature, he or she should click ADOPT AND SIGN to permanently save it and finish signing:
Part 5: Reviewing the signed application
The final step is to review the signed document. If everything looks good, applicants must click FINISH:
Part 6: Returning to Full Fabric
Having nothing left to do at DocuSign anymore, applicants are brought back to their now-submitted applications in Full Fabric:
Part 6.1: Receiving the signed application
Meanwhile, DocuSign emails the signed PDF files directly to their mailboxes:
The email is so straightforward as to need little explanation, but we'll nonetheless highlight some key aspects. As the name suggests, the button VIEW COMPLETED DOCUMENT redirects applicants to DocuSign to let them view and download their signed applications:
Another way for candidates to access their applications on DocuSign's platform is to visit DocuSign's official website (any country's version), click Access Documents from the top menu on the right, enter the Security Code indicated in the email and press GO:
For even greater convenience, applicants can just click on the attachment in the email to download their signed applications:
And that's it! 😁 As we said, the whole process is as simple as can be – candidates don't even need a DocuSign account to sign and download applications.
What is the appearance of a signed application?
As mentioned earlier, the legal notices and stipulations defined in an application template's Digital Signature tab are rendered on a separate page between the application form proper and the attachments. The electronic signature, which consists of the stylised signature adopted by the applicant and a unique ID assigned by DocuSign, is added to the same page. Last but not least, the Envelope ID is shown at the top of every single page of the application, including pages with attachments.
All of these elements must match exactly between the application and the Certificate of Completion, where they're featured as well. The Certificate of Completion is a resource created during a signing process that provides evidence that it happened, such as timestamps and the signer's ID address – please click here for more information
How can staff users check for signed applications and download them?
Implicitly, if someone has submitted an application based on an application template that has DocuSign enabled, the application is signed. That's because we prevent the submission of such applications until we receive notice from DocuSign that they've been successfully signed.
Nevertheless, your DocuSign eSignature account can be set up to notify you via email each time a candidate signs an application, and you can perform actions like search for, check the status of, and download signed applications from the DocuSign eSignature Manage page.
In light of the foregoing, there's no explicit indication in Full Fabric as to the signing status of an application. Moreover, since applications exported from Full Fabric are generated on the spot, they are not signed PDF files, but rather regular PDF files. Kindly turn to your DocuSign eSignature account to retrieve and manage signed application PDFs and all associated data.
To learn more about DocuSign, please visit the DocuSign Support Center website, where you'll find an extensive variety of help articles, how-to guides, and training videos.
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PUBLISHED: March 24, 2023
LAST UPDATED: March 31, 2023 at 12:09 p.m.