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Cumbria becomes first UK university to accept Bitcoin

Posted on Thursday, 23 January by


The University of Cumbria has become the first UK institution to allow some students to pay their tuition fees with the digital crypto-currency, Bitcoin.

Initially, this will apply to students attending two new courses on the roles of complimentary currents in economic systems, being taught from summer later this year.

Last November, the University of Nicosia in Cyprus became the world’s first university to announce it would be taking the digital currency as tuition fee payment, which subsequently led to a lot of good press. Perhaps Cumbria saw this and wanted some of the action? Either way, it’s a good move.

The two courses set to be run by the university’s new Institute for Leadership and Sustainability are in an effort to “study the experience of facilitating payments by one complementary currency system”.

Professor Jem Bendell, the director of the new Institute, said:

We believe in learning by doing, and so to help inform our courses on complementary currencies, we are trialling the acceptance of them.”

“Some support Bitcoin due to its speed and cost, others due the new era of financial freedom it could enable.

“Some are concerned about it and how it will affect economies and society, while others think that what comes next will be even more important.

“We think it is essential to become better informed and analyse it from many different perspectives.”

University of Cumbria

The University of Cumbria, home to 13,000 students

The two courses accepting Bitcoin as payment are the “Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange”, to be taught at Cumbria’s London campus, and the “Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership”, which will take place at the Lake District campus.

Cumbria haven’t quite jumped on the whole Bitcoin bandwagon just yet though, advising students against purchasing the currency in order to pay their fees suggesting only: “if they already have Bitcoin, or can receive Bitcoin donations in order to pay their fees”.

“We make this clear due to the risk of currency volatility. The university does not risk currency volatility as we use transaction services that convert the Bitcoin into GBP at the time of payment,” the statement said.

The system for accepting payments via the “Bitpay” system is already operational, the university confirmed.

In the last few weeks, the price of an individual bitcoin has continued to soar, most recently settling around $900 – $1000, up 4000% since the beginning of last year, heightening interest amongst mainstream consumers.

With £9,000 tuition fees, that would mean after 3 years of study you would only be 100BTC in debt. Great news, huh!

To keep track of bitcoin’s price over the coming few months, click here.

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Lewis Scrafton
22. Co-founder and editor of SQ Magazine. Studying at University of Sussex. Interned at MATTER and published in The Guardian.

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