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On the heels of the growing success and popularity of Bitcoin in 2017, its most recent endorsements have been coming from an unlikely source: universities.
Varna University of Management (VUM) announced in a press release this week that 10 of its Software Engineering bachelor’s program applicants will be eligible for Bitcoin scholarships. The change will go into effect at the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester. The per semester amount was disclosed as 1000 EUR: recipients of the scholarship will have the chance to claim the money in EUR or bitcoins.
VUM hopes that its plans to both integrate the digital currency into the tuition and housing fee payment structure as well as increasing related course offerings in its Software Engineering bachelor’s program will allow the university to generate more attention: “As Varna University of Management will now be the only accredited university to offer scholarships in bitcoins, we believe that we will have a chance to attract some of the brightest students to Varna,” the press statement indicates.
"We strongly believe that cryptocurrency is an inevitable technical development that will lead to significant innovation in all aspects of our lifes. VUM is an innovative and future-oriented university. Endorsing and integrating Bitcoin is only a rational choice for us. We are always interested in delivering disruptive technologies in our IT and Business programmes and cryptocurrency is definitely one of them."
The Pros for Universities
The incentives are numerous for universities to show their support for Bitcoin.
Universities generally experience fewer risks from transactions, as many are carried out indirectly, as they can partner with larger financial services firms: in the case of Swiss-based Lucern University, they are contracted with Bitcoin Suisse AG for processing their bitcoin transactions.
By using a financial intermediary, universities are also shielded from the currency fluctuations and exchange rate instability Bitcoin has been experiencing, a part of the early stages of its evolution.
Universities will be able to integrate blockchain, bitcoin trading, and other related subjects into their curriculum: New York University (NYU) now offers more than one course on the topic. One fall 2017 semester graduate course on offer is Cryptocurrencies and Decentralized Ledgers.
Universities can play an important role in bridging the gap between finance and technology that is preventing Bitcoin from gaining the full acceptance it should have. Large educational institutions process a sizeable cash flow in order to stay afloat, so experimenting with bitcoin is a nice way for them to get their feet wet and ultimately decide the level of support they would like to give the cryptocurrency in the long term.
Although many in the financial sector have been slow to embrace the currency, it is refreshing to see some educational institutions waking up to the many benefits that Bitcoin can offer, and beyond that, supporting a change that will affect current as well as future students. The few universities which have supported bitcoin are the pioneers, but by all indications, many more will soon follow.