The group of sixth form students recently placed third in the national Barclays Blockchain Hackathon competition, where they were challenged to come up with a novel use of blockchain solutions to securely transfer valuable, personal data.
Matthew Lewis, Henry Shaw, James Wallace, and Alex Ward thoroughly impressed key staff at UCAS as they presented their alternative to the existing process, which sees over 3.8 million exam results across 319 qualifications from 36 awarding bodies processed throughout the year.
The students’ use of digitally signed contracts to seamlessly transfer ‘currency’ – in this case exam results – through a blockchain framework between awarding bodies, schools, and students themselves has received praise at the highest levels of multinational banks.
Courteney Sheppard, Customer Experience Manager at UCAS said: ‘I was amazed at the maturity and drive that the students showed with their vision, and the scope of their thinking beyond their core studies. Their innovative ideas to apply blockchain technology to a key part of an established process shows just how powerful young minds can be. We’ll keep their ideas in mind as we continue to digitally develop our services for students and run hackathons with our own staff. Everyone at UCAS wishes the students the best with their next steps.’
Dr Dave Wild, Head of Computer Science at Bedford School said: ‘Our visit to UCAS has helped broaden our students’ learning in school and join the dots from their own interest in computer science, applying it to the real world. Many people have learnt from our students in recent months, as they’ve confidently challenged conventional thinking, and I encourage leaders across different industries to welcome students like ours, and their new ways of thinking, into organisations and give them opportunities to add real value and improve existing processes.’
Henry Shaw, sixth form student from Bedford School, said: ‘The use of blockchain technology isn’t going away, so it’s been great to come to UCAS to explore how our model could work. By learning about how exam results are processed year-round, how errors are corrected, and the importance of the embargo periods in the summer, new dimensions have been added which we’ll need to consider how they’re included in our model.’
James Wallace, sixth form student from Bedford School said: ‘We’re really impressed with UCAS’ efforts to constantly improve and innovate for students, especially the already excellent user interface of the main website. Seeing the modern approach to the work environment that’s happening, especially in their technology department, is particularly refreshing.’
UCAS Press Office
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Notes for editors
UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people, each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.