Student Blockchains: helping Universities Become Digital and Improve Trust

Blockchain is known as the best tamper-proof technology in the world. There is no known way to fool it. This decentralized ledger system is being experimented with around the world in many sectors, including Education. For example, the Central New Mexico Community College provides new graduates with a diploma that is authenticated and recorded on a Student Blockchain. This reduces fraud, costs and validation response times.  

The technology hasn’t made its way to the majority of universities yet, but it is slowly catching on. A recent survey by education technology firm Ellucian showed 52% of recruiters and 58% of students saying they trust digital credentials.  And, of course, there’s no safer credentialing than with Blockchain.

So here are 3 ways that Blockchain is helping universities around the world:

1. Student Blockchain Credentials

The most common application is for digital credentials.

In 2018, the University of Basel in Switzerland  issued certificates with the popular Etherium Blockchain. The technology comprised two parts; the first component created a certificate and registered it to the Blockchain with a unique hash identifier. The second component was a public tool for anyone (student, recruiter etc.) to use to verify the certificate.

Muroran Institute of Technology in Hokkaido Japan did something similar. They have piloted a Blockchain initiative to authenticate their students’ academic records. The project was scheduled to begin in March 2020 with five other Japanese universities are set to follow suit.

Another example of this technology came in 2019, when 9 of the world’s top universities gathered together to address a challenge issued by MIT vice president Sanjay Sarma. He highlighted that students depend on their university for credential verification and as a result, employment, placement, and admission processes are delayed.

To answer this challenge, UC Berkeley, MIT, Delft, Hasso Plattner and several other universities collaborated to develop a free service for students to share their academic credentials on a blockchain.

The initiative has caught on in India as well, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad.  The university has deployed Blockchain in its academic credentialing system where students were applying for visas using fake certificates. 

2. Student Blockchain Records

For universities, Student Blockchains can be more than a way to improve how credentials are issued and verified. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus is using Blockchain to record a students’ achievements and is proving very popular. The same is being done at the Holberton School of Software Engineering in San Francisco.

ECPI University in Virginia has done something similar. They’ve partnered with a Blockchain digital credentials start-up and had uploaded over 1000 diplomas as of August 2018.

With an increase in the number of independent education providers providing online courses and assessments as a part of an institution’s degree-level qualifications we will see more such initiatives.

3. Blockchain Examinations

A less developed area is examinations. But at least one major country has made use of Student Blockchains to make examinations tamper proof. In 2019, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision  announced that they would use blockchain technology for some external graduation exams. It will be interesting to see if this develops elsewhere.

In Conclusion

It’s still early days for Student Blockchains in Education and digital certificates are the most common application. But the potential is clear right across the student lifecycle – from admissions to assessment and certification to student records.

Legacy investments in Student Information Systems (SIS) are not the barrier they may at first seem. Blockchain can play a role in bridging the gap between existing systems and students. And importantly, close the gaps with the many other ‘untrusted’ parties in the student ecosystem – recruiters, employers, banks, accommodation providers and public authorities.

If you’re looking for a partner to explore how Blockchains can be used today to increase trust, create value and differentiate your institution then contact us.

Our 2 minute Blockchain survey

If you have 2 minutes, please help us better understand the use of Student Blockchains in your institution by completing a survey here.

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