Over recent years, thousands of residents in the United Kingdom have spent millions of pounds buying fake diplomas. Degrees range from irrelevant “consultant experts” to critical jobs such as nurses, doctors, and anesthetists, costing up to £500,000 (USD $654,550) on bogus documents. A BBC reporter was offered a degree from a fake university called “Nixon University” which called itself the “New Berkeley”.
In order to end the era of falsified diplomas and certifications, a company named EchoLink Foundation designed the EKO Blockchain Platform. The system is aimed to provide verified education, skill, and work experience information. Taking advantage of blockchain technology immutability and time stamp functionality, it gives users “trusted information” regarding a job candidate’s education, skill, and work experience.
Recorded Timestamp as an Evidence
Approved institutions can insert data in EchoLink system in the form of authentic and authorized documents. The technology allows storing information about a degree, skill level, work experience and more on blockchain with a recorded timestamp.
When users change their academic credentials or increase proficiency, every modification is recorded with a new timestamp, providing a clear chain of evidence. The company says, to avoid tampering from third parties, EchoLink Foundation will make sure only approved educational, training, and other institutions would be able to enter their information.
EchoLink also plans to tackle the problem of verifying degrees from international universities. The company highlights that it is difficult to judge the quality of education for degree holders from abroad, with the exception of well-known universities. Degree certifications and grade reports can be altered or are non-verifiable in many cases. As such, employers are forced to spend a significant amount of resources searching for candidates with the right skill set.
A Great Way to End Falsification?
Fake education became a huge problem for employers and hiring managers at Euromonitor International in Dubai, UAE, according to its senior research manager Nikola Kosutic. He told Coinspeaker that despite multiple layers of attestation needed, “hiring managers struggle to adopt a system which provides a good balance of costs and ease. Companies are left on their own to either check certificates by themselves often by calling or emailing educational institutions abroad, hiring a specialized verification agency, or as it is most often the case, not conducting additional checks at all.”
Toby Lewis, CEO of Novum Insights, a data provider, believes that projects in the sector remain early stage, but they will quickly become a land grab among blockchain providers as a number of them have figured out the education qualification use case is perfect and simple for the technology.
“Verification of education certificates is a popular area of interest for technologists working on new blockchain companies. Almost certainly most certificates will be stored digitally over time, and the immutable record of a blockchain transaction is a great way to end falsification”, Toby Lewis told Coinspeaker.
Jana Petkanic, a blockchain consultant, agrees, that some kind of control is necessary. However, she thinks that a special blockchain-based application is not needed to provide verified data about education. “It’s the verification process which is an issue and it might remain an issue with the blockchain-based application“, she said in an interview with Coinspeaker.
Trial versions of the platform are scheduled for the first quarter of 2019. The company plans to make all the main features of the service available for its users, educational institutions and companies by the second quarter of this year.