When it comes to balancing books, most students find accounting notoriously difficult. Although the cry of a “student budget” is not uncommon and there is often a roller-coaster relationship found between students and finance, universities seem to be a hub for cryptocurrency activity and those within the academic institutions pay a great deal of attention – and funds – to the digital currency industry.
We explore different cases of cryptocurrency intrigue in universities.
A 550% increased interest in cryptocurrency courses
Global cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently carried out a study which looked into the interest that universities and students have in cryptocurrency and results show that the appeal of learning about blockchain has increased exponentially over the years.
The study used a class on cryptocurrency at New York University Stern School of Business as an example. In 2014, when the class was first created, there were only 35 students interested in taking it. Fast-forward to the present and the class has 230 students enrolled, which is a massive 550% increase.
The lecturer of the cryptocurrency course David Yermack believes that a system “is well underway that will lead to the migration of most financial data to blockchain-based organizations [and] students will benefit greatly by studying this area.”
Coinbase’s study also found that:
- 42% of the world’s top 50 universities now offer at least one course on crypto or blockchain,
- Students from a range of majors are interested in crypto and blockchain courses — and universities are adding courses across a variety of departments and
- Original Coinbase research includes a Qriously survey of 675 U.S. students, a comprehensive review of courses at 50 international universities, and interviews with professors and students
Students loans to fund crypto-investments
Earlier this year, The Student Loan conducted a research into how many students take their university loans and plug them into cryptocurrencies.
It was found that one in every five students (that’s a shocking 20%) had in fact used borrowed financial aid money, which was meant for their college-related fees, to invest in a cryptocurrency.
Drew Cloud, the CEO of the company heading up the research, had expected the figure to be a lot lower, stating that as “a college student, your budget is thin and that extra money could be used on rent, groceries, or books.”
Turns out the thin budget needs to include “saving” into a notoriously volatile field of finance. We suppose college is a time for learning. Although if things turn south in cryptocurrency, the risk-taking students will be learning a very expensive lesson.
In August, reports of a student who was apprehended for hijacking millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin were released. The college student, Joel Ortiz managed to steal around $5 million USD by means of hacking into the phones of around 40 victims in order to steal cryptocurrencies.
Reports stated that Ortiz was not working alone, however, the other names of his accompanying suspects are yet to be disclosed.
PhD student wins Bitcoin
Luckily not all students are like Ortiz, and some look to gain their Bitcoin by more honest means.
Back in 2015, the DNA Storage Bitcoin Challenge was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It was a challenge set to see enterprising students and researchers attempt to crack a code laid in a DNA strand.
The tasty reward valued at one Bitcoin was claimed by University of Antwerp student Sander Wuyts at the beginning of the year.
Wuyts was a late entry and quickly set up a small team to crack the code. He admitted after winning the prize that he had “doubts about the feasibility of using DNA to store data. This challenge changed that. Now [he] know very well that this new technology offers great opportunities, maybe even for [his] own future research.”
His Bitcoin was valued at $170 USD when the challenge was set. At the time of writing now, the reward would pick up a tidy $7275.35 USD.