University Of Cumbria To Accept Fees In Bitcoin

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Rival university lecturer says Cumbria would be braver to use dogecoin

The University of Cumbria has become the first institution of its kind to accept fees in bitcoins for some courses, although some see it simply as a PR ploy.

The University said it would start accepting Bitcoin as it launched a series of courses on “complementary currencies in economic and social systems”. A few businesses are already taking payments in controversial cryptocurrency, and the announcement could lend it further credibility.

A private university in Cyprus recently said it would accept bitcoins, meaning Cumbria is the first public university to do so.

Bitcoin (c) Carlos Amarillo, ShutterstockBitcoin acceptance – good PR?

The university will only be accepting bitcoins for two courses: the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange, which will be taught from July, and the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership, which will run from June.

“We believe in learning by doing, and so to help inform our courses on complementary currencies, we are trialling the acceptance of them. The internal discussions about currency and payment innovation and the practical implications for different departments have been insightful,” said Professor Jem Bendell.

The university will reassess the bitcoin trial at the end of 2014.

Dr Gordon Fletcher, senior lecturer in information systems at the University of Salford, told TechWeekEurope it appeared the Cyprus and Cumbrian announcements were “driven by marketing plans rather than being any deeper socio-political statement about the long-term viability of crypto-currencies and their relationship to national currencies”.

“The university is not taking any financial risk by accepting bitcoin. Payments are exchanged to conventional GB pounds at the point of the transaction and at the prevailing exchange rate,” Fletcher added.

“At a simple transactional level the announcement is the equivalent of stating that students can choose to pay in US or Zimbabwean dollars. That is, if a bitcoin was just another national currency. But it isn’t.

“The acceptance of bitcoin is a de facto acceptance of the power and legitimacy of citizen-generated currencies as having genuine economic value. A greater test of Cumbria’s commitment and understanding of crypto-currency would be to also accept dogecoin.”

The Jamaican bobsleigh team has raised a significant amount of dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started out as something of a joke, in a bid to head to the upcoming Winter Olympics, in Cool Runnings style.

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