Whilst there are a plethora of online and in person cryptocurrency courses available for students to study, the adoption of cryptocurrency by universities remains scarce. For instance, Cornell boasts the most cryptocurrency related courses on offer to students, with a staggering total of 38 courses, yet does not accept cryptocurrency.
Everywhere from the University of Oxford to the National University of Singapore has started offering courses in blockchain technologies, with Cornell leading the charge. The Ithacan institution offers a staggering 38 cryptocurrency related courses.
Its Ivy League neighbour, University of Pennsylvania, has gone a step further still and allows students to pay their tuition fees for their Introduction to Digital Currencies course entirely in cryptocurrency. UPenn has teamed up with Coinbase Commerce to process the crypto payments on this online course via any blockchain wallet. Similarly on the other side of the world, Flinders University in South Australia is accepting Bitcoins as payment for their 12-week entrepreneurial courses at the New Venture Institute.
While universities are often happy to accept digital currency for their shorter or online courses, very few colleges accept cryptocurrency payments towards bachelor degrees, and it can at times feel that this is nothing more than an advertising gimmick designed to whip up enthusiasm and free advertising for the course.
Cryptocurrencies Common around Campus
It isn’t that universities aren’t keen to get on board with digital currencies: several universities have working Bitcoin ATMs on campus, and both MIT and Harvard even accept cryptocurrency as payment in their Coop Stores.
Is Cryptocurrency too Volatile for Colleges?
With many digital currencies suffering from significant volatility in tradeable value, paying or receiving a large fee in a currency like Bitcoin or Ethereum at the start of a school year could potentially leave either the student or teaching institute feeling short-changed by the end of it.
To illustrate the point, we look at an example of paying for a year of study at the University of Penn, where the fees and tuition for the 21-22 academic year were $61,710. In September 2021, a student would have needed to pay just 1.19 Bitcoin for the entire year’s tuition (1 Bitcoin converting to $52,000 at the time). However, assuming the University did not immediately exchange for cash, a huge drop in the cryptocurrency’s value throughout late 2021 and early 2022 would have meant that by the end of the school year, the 1.19 Bitcoin it held would be worth just $22,623 (1 Bitcoin converting to only £19,011 in June 2022), leaving the educational institute out of pocket to the tune of almost $40,000.
With the level of risk outweighing the benefits, it might seem we’re a long way off a time when universities will happily accept cryptocurrency as payment for tuition fees, but that isn’t borne out by the facts.
Some Universities Have Accepted Bitcoins Since 2013
The University of Nicosia became the first university to accept Bitcoin payments, ten years ago in 2013. The University of Cumbria followed soon after, allowing students on two of its courses to pay in Bitcoin, but the university has since confirmed to BanklessTimes.com that this is no longer an option.
There are two countries where you can almost certainly pay for your university education in cryptocurrency. These are El Salvador and the Central African Republic; El Salvador became the first country to make cryptocurrency legal tender in 2021 and the Central African Republic followed soon after in 2022. This means that students wishing to apply to any of El Salvador’s 29 universities can pay their tuition fees in cryptocurrency, as can students applying to the three institutions located within the Central African Republic.
Why Do Some Universities Choose to Accept Cryptocurrency?
So with the University of Nicosia still accepting cryptocurrency payments a decade on, why do some universities choose to accept cryptocurrency regardless of the risks?
“The intention of this initiative is to ease transmission difficulties for certain students and to build our own practical knowledge about this field, not to engage in currency speculation”
a spokesperson for the University of Nicosia stated.
Meanwhile, Paraguay’s Universidad Americana accepts Bitcoin, Ether, Dash and XRP as forms of payment. The university will make tactical decisions on when to convert the payments into fiat currency, its director has said, rather than converting them immediately.
Below is list of the places you can pay tuition fees in crypto: