Cypriot University World First Taking Bitcoins

With the Bitcoin rising in popularity as a digital currency around the world, the University of Nicosia (UNic), one of the major English language universities in the Mediterranean, will become the world’s first to accept it for tuition and will also begin a new Master of Science course in Digital Currency.

According to the university those who wish to pay tuition fees in bitcoins, will be able to use an online merchant processing service or by paying directly to the university’s finance office.

“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,” the University spokesperson told GeekWire.

The new currency course is aimed at giving a whole variety of students from entrepreneurs to government officials a better understanding of the technical underpinning of digital currency.

“While digital currency is a relatively new concept, currency is one of the oldest human inventions. What we aim to explore in this program is the likely development pathway of digital currency and give our students insights that they can bring to bear in their professional careers,” Andreas Polemitis, the Senior Vice Rector said.

The new Master’s program will be taught in English, distributing both on-campus and online to distant students, and should begin in the spring of next year.

The virtual currency has recently been attracting a lot of attention from both users and policymakers. On Nov. 18 Bitcoin skyrocketed to an all-time high of $900 per unit on the Mt.Gox exchange.

There is a growing push for greater use of the Bitcoin. During a hearing in the US where the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee said it was scrutinizing the virtual currency. Officials called bitcoins a “legitimate” financial service, despite past focus on the currency as a prime target for money launderers.

The University of Nicosia also proposes a policy framework for developing Cyprus into a hub for Bitcoin trading, processing and banking as its banks were brought to ruin by huge holdings in devalued Greek bonds and bad loans to Greek businesses that went belly-up during that country’s crushing economic crisis.

Christos Vlachos, the Nicosia University Chief Financial Officer,  said that, ““We are acutely aware that digital currency is an inevitable technical development that will lead to significant innovation in online commerce, financial systems, international payments and remittances, and global economic development.

“Digital currency will create more efficient services and will serve as a mechanism for spreading financial services to under-banked regions of the world. In this light, we consider it appropriate that we implement digital currency as a method of payment across all our institutions in all cities and countries of our operations”.

UNic, formerly known as Intercollege is the largest private university in Cyprus with 5,000 students.