European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI)

EQAR is enabling the use of DEQAR data on external quality assurance within the EBSI ecosystem. This allows recognised European higher education institutions to easily confirm their accreditation status and thus facilitates adoption of EBSI digital diplomas.

The EU is developing a technical architecture for digitally-issued education diplomas as part of the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI). The EBSI Diplomas Use Case addresses the same needs as the European Digital Credentials for Learning, based on a different underlying technical platform. Yet, both initiatives are compatible and based on the same higher-level data models and standards.

EBSI is based on contemporary standards for decentralised identification (W3C DIDs) and digital credentials (W3C Verifiable Credentials). Education diplomas are a specific type of verifiable credential (VC) in EBSI. Likewise, external quality assurance or accreditation are also represented as a digitally-signed VC that authorise specific higher education institutions to issue education diplomas.

EQAR has worked to enable the use of DEQAR data on external quality assurance and accreditation as part of the EBSI Early Adopters Programme, in close dialogue with the EBSI architects and the convenors of the Diplomas Use Case. Using SSI Kit by walt.id, an open-source software solution developed with EU support, EQAR provides a system to automatically issue VCs based on the data available in DEQAR.

Currently, two types of Verifiable Credentials (VC) can be issued:

  • EBSI Verifiable Accreditations can be issued for external quality assurance results with an official status in a national system (“part of obligatory EQA system”).

The higher education institution must have an EBSI DID (e.g. participating in the EBSI Early Adopters programme). Currently, EBSI DIDs need to be communicated to EQAR and recorded manually. If EBSI moves to large-scale adoption, it is expected that EBSI DIDs could be looked up from EBSI registers based on VAT numbers. (These VCs are issued by EQAR under its EBSI DID did:ebsi:zk4bhCepWSYp9RhZkRPiwUL.)
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  • DEQAR format VCs are based on the plain W3C Recommendation and an own data model, closely following EBSI standards but without EBSI-specific or EU-specific elements or data types. The higher education institution is identified by its DEQAR URI in this case. (These VCs can be issued for all reports in DEQAR. The VCs are issued by EQAR under did:web:data.deqar.eu.)
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If you want to get involved or are interested to know more, please contact Aleksandra Zhivkovikj or Colin Tück.

More about EBSI

The Commission is working with EU Member States (and beyond) to build EBSI. Through this infrastructure, Blockchain technology will entirely transform the identification of verifiable credentials

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in Europe, especially across borders based on principle of ‘Self-Sovereign Identity’. A multi-university pilot is now showing us how it will look in practice.

Since 2018, 29 countries (all EU Member States, Norway and Lichtenstein) and the European Commission have joined forces to form the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). They have committed to working together towards realising the potential of blockchain-based services for the benefit of citizens, society and the economy.

Using blockchain, citizens can set-up digital wallets and manage their identity – and other – credentials across borders. Citizens can also gain digital control of their educational credentials, significantly reducing verification costs and improving trust in documents’ authenticity.

As of 2020, EBSI is deploying a network of distributed blockchain nodes across Europe, supporting applications focused on selected use-cases. EBSI is the first EU-wide blockchain infrastructure, driven by the public sector, in full respect of European values and legislation.

The Early Adopters programme

The first production-ready version of EBSI will be released towards the end of 2021. This release will be the result of large-scale, pan-European collaboration between Member State’s representatives and Commission services and agencies.

In 2021, 22 projects (among which EQAR) were selected to become part of an incubator programme, known as the EBSI Early Adopters, helping the first EBSI users and their partners imagine, build and launch their pilot project(s).  The EBSI team gave each project’s private and public sector partners early access to the EBSI pre-production environment and invited them to develop their own pilot project(s) addressing a specific business or government use case involving the exchange of verifiable credentials.

In early 2021, the Early Adopters programme started working directly with Member States to implement EBSI use cases (Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), Diplomas, Traceability and Trusted data sharing) and build an ecosystem with some really outstanding real-life examples that will lead to the full rollout of EBSI.