A group of professors from Oxford revealed that they are aiming to gain full-degree granting powers in the EU for what they call the world’s very first “blockchain university”.
According to the academics masterminding Woolf Development, and led by Joshua Broggi from the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford, the use of blockchain tech and smart contracts can democratize the traditional structure imposed on higher education.
Their proposal for a blockchain university will adopt the traditional Oxbridge course and collegiate structure, focusing on individual-led modules that will be made available to students either on or offline. They said that the project is designed to be geographically agnostic and made to prioritize a borderless academic community instead of local or national ties.
The whitepaper from Woolf suggests that a blockchain-powered university may be able to address many of the issues that plague universities globally. These include increasing tuition fees for students, the cumbersome bureaucracy and administration costs and professionally precarious and underpaid teaching posts.
The whitepaper points out that the immutability of blockchain can function as a form of security, preventing students from falsifying academic records, while smart contracts take care of recording attendance, credits, and academic paper submissions.
Professor Broggi says that Woolf is currently seeking accreditation to allow it full degree-granting powers in the EU, and he continues, saying that:
“We are using a blockchain to enforce regulatory compliance and provide high degrees of data security so that regulators have the confidence to provide global teaching activities with accreditation in Europe. So a Woolf student in Madras with a Woolf teacher in New York will earn an EU Woolf degree.”
Woolf’s first college, named Ambrose, is set to launch in the fall of 2018. Proposed fees are currently set at $400 per tutorial, or $19,200 per year “before scholarships.”
A native, fully pre-mined token called the WOOLF token, which is ERC-20 compliant is to be used for several functions, including faculty compensation, university budget, project development, and lastly voting on platform governance.
Blockchain technology continues to make a significant impact on higher education, with several international educational institutions starting to offer blockchain, smart contract, and cryptocurrency-related courses. Meanwhile, Cambridge University has conducted significant research in the crypto-finance space, and Swiss university Lucerne has even accepted Bitcoin payment for tuition fees.