Lancaster-based University of Cumbria has set a world first.
The institution is believed to be the first public university to allow students to pay their fees by the online currency Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is an online currency and payment system that already enables the international transmission of funds.
Initially the university will only allow the payment by Bitcoin to the two programmes that address complementary currencies, which are both run by the new Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS).
Professor Jem Bendell, The founder and director of IFLAS has worked in this field for four years, and is a leading commentator on the topic.
He said:: “We believe in learning by doing, and so to help inform our courses on complementary currencies, we are trialing the acceptance of them.
“The internal discussions about currency and payment innovation and the practical implications for different departments have been insightful.”
He added that thee reason IFLAS launched a course on these topics was due to the growing practice of currency innovation and the potential it presents for significant societal change.
Prof Bendell said: “Some support Bitcoin due to its speed and cost, others due the new era of financial freedom it could enable.
“Others are concerned about it and how it will affect economies and society. Others think that what comes next will be even more important.
“We think it is essential to become better informed, and analyse it from many different perspectives.”
Last May IFLAS co-organised the first symposium by the United Nations on complementary currencies and has an active research programme on this topic, including PhD students.
It’s system for accepting payments, via the Bitpay system, is already operational.
However,the UoC is only advising students who already have a Bitcoin account or can receive Bitcoin donations in order to pay their fees to sue the currency.
Late last year a private university in Cyprus announced it would accept Bitcoin, but the University of Cumbria is the first public university to do so, and for courses that are already validated and accepting students.
Prof Bendell recently became the first UK academic invited to attend a top Harvard leadership programme.