NFT & Higher Education: College and Universities

In our last discussion on higher education and non-fungible tokens we focused on the student side of things. This time we’ll examine the role of NFTs from the perspective of colleges and universities.

knack ·  · 03/29/22 ·  2 min

Aggressive competition dominates the higher education landscape. Institutions that fail to make rankings or raise sufficient donor dollars wither and fall away. Innovation is a key differentiator among colleges, especially technological innovation.

The fact that NFTs are both mainstream and tech-forward presents numerous opportunities for regional and national level differentiation. NFTs can catalyze improvements in areas such as fundraising, athletics and events, showcasing instructors’ achievements, and sharing sensitive information.

Fundraising with NFTs

UC Berkeley image by Maggie Valentine
UC Berkeley image by Maggie Valentine

Ask any college graduate if their college’s alumni association has asked them to donate, and the answer will be ‘yes.’ Colleges love money as much as any human being, and NFTs offer a way to raise more of it. Many higher profile colleges like the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University possess massive troves of historical items. Berkeley has begun to make the most of its archive by selling NFTs of Nobel Prize-winning research that its professors have completed. We expect more universities to capitalize on what they have in storage in the coming years.

Bentley University drew from its store of historical memorabilia as well, with an emphasis on sports. When their Coach Barbara Stevens was inducted into the basketball hall of fame, the university commemorated the occasion by minting and selling an NFT that featured a photo of her 1000th win. Soon after Bentley, The University of Miami began to sell NFTs of their sports program’s top moments. The university will even offer non-fungible tokens of the championship rings won by the school’s football program!

We believe there’s room for synergistic NFT offerings in college athletics because recent legal decisions have allowed athletes to profit from their name and image. When high profile players receive an advertising boost from major institutions and vice versa, the possibilities are extraordinary.

Events, athletics, and textbooks

Events, including sporting events, are as common as classes at universities nationwide. And with those events come ticket reselling. If universities switched to NFT-based ticket sales they’d not only profit from the initial sale but they would also receive royalties upon resale of tickets.

Institutions could also benefit from NFT textbooks for similar reasons. University bookstores often require students to buy textbooks written by the school’s professors. An NFT-based textbook system could lower costs for textbooks while generating secondary sale royalties for the authors.

Academics and their research

Instead of storing sensitive research in the cloud where it can be meddled with, higher education institutions and academics might wish to take advantage of non-fungible tokens. Their versatility, security, and transparency are well-suited to the task. NFTs would also circumvent bureaucratic intermediaries because a transaction can be made directly on a blockchain network.

If human research subjects are involved, their personal data would arguably be more secure on chain than in some form of centralized storage. At the individual level, academics and institutions can use NFTs as a secure, authentic curriculum vitae that prospective students and fellow researchers can view while retaining clear ownership.


Higher education institutions in the United States hold tremendous power. Their activities are woven through American life from biomedical research to basketball. NFTs adaptability allows smooth pairing with any purpose a university might desire.

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