A group of Oxford professors are seeking full-degree granting powers in the EU for the world’s first “blockchain university”, according to an email shared with Cointelegraph today, June 14.
According to the team of academics behind Woolf Development, led by Joshua Broggi from the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford, blockchain tech and smart contracts can help democratize the traditional structure of higher education.
The proposed “blockchain university” will adopt the traditional Oxbridge course and collegiate structure by focusing on individual tutorial-led modules that will be available to students either on- or offline. The project’s design is “geographically agnostic,” prioritizing a “borderless” academic community over local or national ties.
Woolf’s whitepaper suggests that a blockchain-powered university can address many of the issues currently affecting universities worldwide, including sky-high tuition fees for students, cumbersome bureaucracy and administration costs, and precarious and underpaid academic teaching posts.
As the whitepaper outlines, the immutability of blockchain can function to prevent students from falsifying their academic records, with smart contracts automating students’ attendance, credits and academic paper submissions.
Dr. Broggi told CoinTelegraph that Woolf is now seeking full degree-granting powers in the EU and has been offered “a clear pathway to full accreditation in two European jurisdictions,” continuing:
“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, Ambrose, is set to launch in fall 2018. The proposed fees are set to $400 per tutorial, or $19,200 per year “before scholarships.”
Characterizing their project as an “Airbnb of degree courses” for students, and a “decentralized, non-profit, democratic community” for tutors, the academics emphasize that blockchain is the key technology that “provide[s] the contractual stability needed to complete a full course of study.”
A native, fully pre-mined and ERC20-compliant WOOLF token will be used for a wide range of functions, including tuition custodianship, the university budget, internal project developments, and in university governance (voting will be free, but proposing a vote carries a cost as an anti-spamming measure).
Blockchain has already made a significant impact on the content, if not yet the structure, of higher education, with many leading international universities offering blockchain, smart contract, and cryptocurrency-related courses. Institutions such as Cambridge University have conducted substantial research into the crypto-finance field, and Swiss university Lucerne even accepts Bitcoin payments for tuition fees.