A team of researchers from Oxford are aiming to open the world’s first blockchain university later this year – called Woolf University, that will utilize blockchain tech to provide students with a one-on-one education that is cheaper than typical universities.
The main draw of the new university for students will be the lower-than-average cost that results from using of blockchain to remove the middle-men involved in academia, including regulators and administrative teams.
The new university will cost $19,200 per year, and the school is hoping to onboard world class teachers by offering competitive salaries and benefits. Although this cost seems high as compared to many universities throughout the world, it is over $10,000 less per year than the average private university’s tuition, with some estimates placing the average tuition at $32,400.
Joshua Broggi, the founder of Woolf University and a research fellow at the University of Oxford, spoke to ABC News about the avant-garde university experiment, saying:
“Woolf’s blockchain is designed to cut out the middle layer of bureaucracy between the classroom and the regulator. The platform is designed to offer students and teachers uncompromised ownership of their personal data.”
The new college is speculated to be located in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta, and is expected to offer two types of courses, both online and on campus, in order to reach the maximum number of students.
The new system and competitive pay has caught the attention of professors from major universities, including University of Oxford, Cambridge University, and King’s College London, among others.
Originally, the team was planning on conducting an ICO in an effort to garner funding, but they scrapped those plans due to regulatory concerns surrounding the legal definition of ICO products, many of which are being defined as securities.
Skepticism Surrounding Blockchain Based University
Despite seeming like a promising new use-case that shows just how widespread blockchain’s reach is, some experts are expressing skepticism regarding the need and practicality of using the blockchain to build a more efficient university.
Michele Finck, the author of “Blockchain Regulation and Governance in Europe,” expressed doubt as to the point of the new university, saying:
“At a fundamental level, the project misunderstands what a university education is about. There surely is the educational element in a strict sense but, more broadly, it’s also about learning a range of soft skills and being part of a real-world community that supports, stimulates and challenges you in your way into adulthood.”
She also said that she doubts the university will ultimately be approved under current European data protection laws, and that the cost will prove to be a huge obstacle.
“From an economic perspective, I don’t see how this could work. Tuition costs are $19,200 a year. Many [universities] could benefit from embracing technology. It’s really not clear to me what blockchain would add to education,” Finck added.
Despite these doubts, Broggi is still optimistic about the blockchain-centric university, adding that the world needs more universities, and that more students will be looking for more accessible universities as acceptance rates continue to decline.
“We need to see fresh thinking about higher education because the largest group of students in human history will be looking for a university degree over the next decade. Globally, we are not prepared for that. We would need to build hundreds of new universities. I think Woolf can meet part of that need.”
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