Woolf University founder Joshua Broggi (second from left) in Malta with Woolf’s three other directors
The world’s first blockchain-powered university, the brainchild of an Oxford research fellow, could soon set up shop in Malta.
“Malta provides an educational framework based in the British tradition – and after Brexit, Malta will remain both an EU member state and a Commonwealth member,” philosophy research fellow Joshua Broggi told Medium.com. “We have had productive meetings with [Education Minister] Evarist Bartolo and the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE). As part of our participation in the community of Malta, members of the Woolf University have already been contracted as expert peer-reviewers and acted to help the NCFHE in assessing applications for degree accreditation.”
The Woolf University will run on blockchain technology, so as to save costs by automating administrative procedures while ensuring the security of degrees.
It will not be an online university per se, but is intended to complement online and onsite teaching anywhere in the world by providing students with personalised tutorials.
Students and teachers will ‘check-in’, which will execute a series of smart contracts that validate attendance and assignment completion, pay the teacher in tokens and provide micro-credits to the student.
“We use a blockchain to create efficiencies by managing custodianship of student tuition, enforcing regulatory compliance for accreditation, and automation a number of processes,” Broggi told Forbes. “Our blockchain-enforced accreditation processes are such that teachers and students from outside the EU can join our platform and earn a full EU degree – a non-EU student with a non-EU teacher in a non-EU language.”
Woolf University has already attracted a well-qualified range of professors and lecturers, mostly from the University of Oxford, but also from Cambridge University, George Mason University, King’s College London, Leipzig University and Kyoto University.
Woolf has roped in some big names from the academic world
Once its first five colleges are launched, it will open up applications to academics with a doctorate from one of the world’s top 200 universities, with annual salaries ranging between $50,000 and $100,000.
Although they plan to have more than one regulatory partner, they have started with Malta, attracted by its new laws to regulate companies which run on DLT technology as well as by a pilot project by the Education Ministry to provide blockchain-based records for educational certification.
“Malta is an ideal partner for a borderless university,” Broggi said. “As an island country, Malta has a long tradition of looking beyond its own borders, and Malta is now developing a robust regulatory framework for distributed ledger technology. Both the educational policies and the blockchain policies are supportive of Woolf’s aims and we look forward to continued work with Malta as they become ‘the blockchain island’.”
Woolf had initially planned to fund the university through a public initial coin offering but said it has since found enough private investment to delay the need to go public.