A small number of professors from Oxford are looking to establish the first-ever blockchain university, according to a report by CoinTelegraph on June 14. The professors are officially seeking full degree-granting powers from the EU.
The professors are led by Oxford Faculty of Philosophy member Joshua Broggi, the founder of Woolf Development. Woolf is the platform through which the university will be established.
Job Opportunities for Professors, Low-Cost Education for Students
The university will operate kind of like “Uber for students, Airbnb for academics,” according to Broggi. It’s estimated that professors could earn somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 teaching a normal class load through the platform.
“Our blockchain-enforced accreditation processes are such that teachers and students from outside the EU can join our platform and earn a full EU degree – a non-EU student with a non-EU teacher in a non-EU language,” Broggi explained. He said that the ultimate aim of the project is to “be a driver of job opportunities and security for academics, as well as a low-cost alternative for students.”
DLT Will Replace Traditional Administration
The project intends to use blockchain technology and smart contracts to decentralize and democratize higher education. On a practical level, this means that distributed ledger technology will be used for decentralized governance, data security, and as a replacement for higher education intermediaries.
Professors and students will use smart contracts in their day-to-day class interactions to track attendance and completion of assignments. These ‘check-ins’ will grant micro-credits to students and payments to teachers.
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— Woolf.University (@WoolfUniversity) March 26, 2018
Blockchain’s immutability will also provide a platform for outside sources to check whether or not an individual has been granted a degree from the university. This could prevent individuals from falsely claiming that they received a degree from an institution; this could also protect individuals whose universities may have shut down.
Forbes reported that blockchain could also be used to streamline the accumulation of credits from multiple institutions. In short, an efficient blockchain system could be used to reduce the administrative costs associated with “managing custodianship of student tuition, enforcing regulatory compliance for accreditation, and automating a number of processes,” said Broggi.
This isn’t the first time that an institution of higher education has explored the use of blockchain within its administrative systems. The University of Nicosia and the Open University have experimented with a blockchain certification system; the MIT Media Lab has been using ‘Blockcerts’ to issue digital certificates since 2015.
At the moment, the project is still in its infancy. It’s not yet clear whether seed capital will be raised through an ICO or a VC.