The University of Nicosia, which is located in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, announced today that it will allow students to pay tuition in Bitcoin, the first higher education institution to do so. University of Nicosia charges between $6,700 and $33,600, depending on the program, for tuition. Seeing as each Bitcoin is currently worth about $685 – a price that can, and likely will, rise and fall by the day – you’d need about 49 Bitcoins per year for full-time studies.
In addition to accepting Bitcoin to pay for tuition, the University of Nicosia (UNic for short) has also launched a new Master of Science Degree program in digital currencies. The degree is meant for business professionals, government officials, and entrepreneurs, and will help them “better understand the technical underpinnings of digital currency, how it will likely interact with existing monetary and financial systems, and what opportunities exist for innovation in digital currency systems,” according to the university. The new Master’s program will be available both online and on-campus starting in 2014.
Considering that Bitcoin is still a relatively new currency, with governments still grappling with how to handle it, UNic’s innovative tuition payment program might seem a bit premature. But according to Dr. Christos Vlachos, a member of the Council of the University of Nicosia and the university’s Chief Financial Officer, digital currencies like Bitcion are the future, and there’s no reason to wait.
“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,” said Vlachos in a statement. “… 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.”
Cyprus is perhaps more intimately linked to Bitcoin than many other countries. The country was one of the hardest hit in the global financial collapse that hit in 2008, and its residents reportedly began investing their euros in Bitcoin en masse as the country’s financial institutions floundered.
It’s unclear how many students will take advantage of the new way to pay for classes – especially considering that the value of a Bitcoin can often double or triple overnight.