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Taiwanese University Develops Digital English Diploma Technology

Image source: web.ncku.edu.tw

National Cheng Kung University began accepting applications for its digital English diploma from January 2022. Since the university issued the first digital Chinese graduation certificate verified by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in June 2021, the NCKU technical team has continued advancing the technology for conferring digital certificates and improving the administrative process so it can be used by more colleges in the future. It is expected that in February of this year, around 20 colleges in Taiwan will employ the certificate issuing system developed by NCKU.

NCKU began issuing digital Chinese graduation certificates in 2020, in line with a trial program by MOE to encourage colleges to issue digital certificates. This year, NCKU has optimised its certificate issuing system and added a digital English diploma to its services. Under a lot of effort, the system and its supporting process were successfully built.

The issuing process is simple and does not require the administrative staff to possess programming skills, which will help improve the efficiency of issuing digital certificates and in turn increase their popularity. The technical team will continue to work on optimising the technology and apply SHA-256 hash function in its programs to build digital fingerprints for the digital certificates, improving the encryption and security of the process. A combination technology is used when producing the file of the certificate where the students’ information is printed onto the template provided by the system.

When applying for a job or further studies, most of the applicants will need to submit a paper graduation certificate to the company or school for review. The authenticity verification of the graduation certificate often requires complicated back-and-forth procedures, which consumes a lot of time and labour.

With the collaborative program between NCKU and MOE on digital certificates, companies and schools simply have to upload the digital certificates to the “Digital Diploma Verification System” for easy verification. The system is able to both verify the document and check if it has been tampered with, making the verification process have higher credibility and lessening the time and labour costs in the process.

Anyone can produce a certificate, therefore, how the team proves the validity of their digital certificate is particularly important. By applying the SHA-256 hash function in the issuing process, a serial number and related verification data will be produced at the same time when an institute issues a digital certificate. The technology cannot be backtracked and therefore allows the MOE to easily verify certificates without gathering personal information on the students, meeting practical needs in the current field.

Up to now, over 10 colleges have employed the MOE digital certificate issuing system developed by NCKU, and it is expected that around 20 schools will have completed the system incorporation by this February. In the future, the team will explore technologies in fields such as distributed ledger and blockchain in the hope of connecting with schools and colleges in an alliance.

For now, the team continues pushing to expand applications of this technology within NCKU. Other documents such as transcript, program certificate, and rewards and penalties form are part of its applications. NCKU plans to provide related technologies to other colleges in the nation for all schools to keep up with the digital age.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, digitalisation is no longer an option, but it is a necessity in Taiwan. As face-to-face contact is limited, digitalisation has become crucial not only for businesses but also for schools. Local corporations were prudent about revamping older information technology infrastructure to keep up with the global digitalisation trend, but most office employees still worked in front of desktop computers at their offices.

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