Blockchain research and development company IOHK is working with the national research and education network of Greece, GRNET, on a new pilot program that aims to put university qualifications on a blockchain platform.
The open source pilot project involves three Greek universities: the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the biggest university in Greece, the Democritus University of Thrace and the Athens University of Economics and Business. Holders of diplomas of these universities will be able to electronically offer proof of their degrees using a blockchain platform.
Currently, university diplomas in Greece are issued in paper form upon graduation. The university retains proof that the graduate passed all courses and was awarded the degree. The student gets a certified copy from the department’s registrar and would present photocopies to potential employers.
Photocopied certificates allow for the possibility of fraudulent or fake documents. For employers, it is not easy to verify whether a diploma presented is a genuine one. To make sure that a degree is real, the employer needs to contact the university and this does not always happen.
Putting qualifications on a blockchain gives transparency to this process by offering a straightforward method for checking if someone holds a degree. In addition, it eliminates a great amount of paperwork. Graduates are in charge of their personal records, reducing bureaucracy at universities.
Professor Panayiotis Tsanakas, CEO and managing director of GRNET, sees the pilot project as a “disruptive contribution to a major e-government reform for transparency and productivity gains for our society.”
“We see blockchain as a major enabler for a new generation of distributed applications, while we are also aware of the challenges existing technologies face. We were therefore eager to collaborate with IOHK to leverage the newest innovations in the area.”
Panos Louridas, a consultant at GRNET and an associate professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, praised the collaboration, stating that the experience has been very positive so far.
“When we started the project we knew we would be pushing the boundaries by choosing to implement this new service using cutting edge technology,” Louridas said. “There is a lot of hype around blockchains, and we were worried that that we might not be able to find the deep technical know-how we knew we would need.”
IOHK will be building the blockchain platform using a fork of Mantis, the Ethereum Classic client it built.
The Greek universities join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which unveiled in October 2017 a pilot project to use Bitcoin’s blockchain to issue digital diplomas to over 100 graduates.
The MIT said the certificates were issued through an app called Blockcerts Wallets, which allows graduates to securely share a verifiable and tamper-proof digital version of their diplomas with prospective employers and others.