The Malaysian Ministry of Education is turning to blockchain technology to combat degree fraud in order to maintain the integrity and reputation of universities in the Southeast Asian country.
This has seen the ministry unveil an issuance and verification system for university degrees based on the NEM blockchain. Known as the e-Scroll system, the idea of the blockchain application was mooted early this year by the Council of ICT Deans of Malaysian universities.
The e-Scroll system is expected to combat the rising cases of fake degrees in Malaysia some of which are now even being sourced online from ‘diploma mills’. The fake educational certificates not only disadvantage genuine students but also pose numerous dangers to society when critical sectors such as healthcare are staffed with people of questionable expertise.
“Realizing the need to safeguard the reputation and integrity of Malaysian universities, the Ministry of Education has taken a decisive action to prevent such degree fraud which also cheats and unfairly disadvantages genuine students,” said Malaysia’s Ministry of Education in a tweeted statement.
Enhancing Efficiency in Verification
At the moment, universities in Malaysia get thousands of requests from around the world asking for the verification of educational certificates. So far this has been highly inefficient since it is done via emails and over the telephone but this will no longer be a problem with the NEM-based e-Scroll system.
According to Malaysia’s Ministry of Education, the NEM blockchain was picked because it possesses unique features with regards to authenticating and managing traceability. A QR code is printed on the certificate and whenever there is a need to verify, the QR code is scanned from any part of the world as long as there is an internet connection.
During the first stage of implementing the e-Scroll system, all the degree certifications of the PhD students who will be graduating this month from the International Islamic University Malaysia will be embedded on the blockchain.
At the same time, the Malaysian education ministry has also launched a blockchain technology consortium whose membership is largely drawn from universities in the country. The goal of the consortium is to assist in the training of academics and students on blockchain technology. The consortium also hopes to develop blockchain applications potentially making this a revenue generator for the member institutions.
The six founding member universities of the consortium are International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UITM).