Graduates in Greece will be able to show proof of their university qualifications using blockchain as a result of a project between IOHK, the leading blockchain research, and development company, and GRNET, the national research, and education network of Greece. In a pilot involving three Greek universities, degree holders will be able to electronically offer proof of their degree using a blockchain built by IOHK. As part of its role, GRNET will provide all of the web technology required, such as web pages, testing, and support. GRNET will also bring together the universities that will use the technology after the pilot concludes.
Currently, in Greece, university diplomas are issued in paper form upon graduation. The university retains proof that the graduate passed all courses and was awarded the degree, and the degree holder obtains a certified copy from the department’s registrar. When proof of a degree is required, such as when applying for a job, the degree holder provides a photocopy to the potential employer. If the certified copy is lost, the degree holder may request a new one from the university, though this can be a cumbersome and expensive process.
Apart from the inconvenience of having to manage paper copies, it is not easy to verify that the diploma presented is a genuine one. The onus is on the entity requesting the degree, who must contact the university and verify that the degree is real. This does not always happen, and photocopied certificates allow for the possibility of fraudulent or fake documents being presented.
Putting qualifications on the blockchain creates complete transparency for this process by offering a straightforward and simple method for checking if someone holds a degree. In addition, it eliminates the frustrating paperwork involved. Graduates will be in charge of their personal records, reducing bureaucracy at the universities.
A working prototype of the system is scheduled for the end of 2017 and is an open source project, meaning all code will be publicly available on GitHub.
The blockchain used will be Cardano Enterprise, which features Ouroboros, the proof of stake protocol developed by IOHK. Ouroboros is already running in Cardano, which IOHK launched in September and is now in the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.
The three universities that will take part in the pilot include the biggest university in Greece, The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, as well as the Democritus University of Thrace, and the Athens University of Economics and Business. The three universities are geographically dispersed and have very different student communities, which will further validate the pilot.
Professor Panayiotis Tsanakas, CEO and Managing Director of GRNET, said: “We are delighted to be part of this 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 Associate Professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, praised the collaboration: “This has been a very positive collaboration for us. When we started the project we knew we would be pushing the boundaries by choosing to implement this new service using cutting edge technology. There is a lot of hype around blockchains, and we were worried that we might not be able to find the deep technical know-h we knew we would need. IOHK has been providing us not only with the technology, but also with support and advice. At the same time, we would provide them with our requirements, and they would briskly get down to work to deliver them.”
“I’m very pleased to announce that Greek graduates will be able to prove their qualifications by way of a blockchain,” said Charles Hoskinson. “Education is a big part of what we do at IOHK – for example running courses to train students in Haskell in Athens – so it is a pleasure to partner with the national research and education network of Greece, and be working on a project with the involvement of Greece’s universities.”