Calgary — The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) will be the first post-secondary institution in Canada to issue digital diplomas through blockchain. More than 4,800 graduating students in SAIT’s Class of 2019 will receive blockchain-based documents along with their traditional parchments. Fittingly, the idea was inspired by a group of students.

“Last year we had some particularly keen and strong students on our team and they wanted to do something cool,” explained George Chase, an instructor in the School of Information and Communications Technologies. “I introduced them to the idea of blockchain and they decided to create a system where the Office of the Registrar could issue a digital diploma.”

The students were given the opportunity to present their project to SAIT leadership and the idea was expanded to create a full-scale solution working with ODEM.

The virtual diplomas will enable graduates to directly share their academic transcript with recruiters and potential employers. Currently, in traditional background checks and onboarding, candidates are asked to provide transcripts to their potential employers. Former students then often have to ask the institution for a sealed paper record or to mail other schools or employers directly. This process can be time-consuming for both the parties. However with blockchain, background checks are instantly verifiable, preventing fraudulent education claims.

“SAIT graduates are well-positioned for success with employers in today’s rapidly changing digital landscape,” said Dr. David Ross, SAIT’s President and CEO.

Established in 1916, SAIT educates 50,000 students every year through more than 100 career programs and 1,300 part-time courses. SAIT’s partner is Switzerland-based ODEM, an international On-Demand Education Marketplace, built on the Ethereum blockchain.