Firm scores electronic parchment deal with UL

8 Dec 2005

A young technology company based at the Invent Campus at Dublin City University (DCU) has secured a deal with University of Limerick (UL) to enable graduates to receive their degrees and diplomas in an electronic format that would be securely authenticated, has learned.

Framework Solutions, whose directors include Danny O’Hare the founding president of DCU and chairman of the Information Society Commission and Michael Quinn, former CEO of ICC Bank, is currently in the process of raising Business Expansion Scheme and private investment.

Jonathan Dempsey, sales and marketing director of Framework Solutions, explained that the company was created on the back of an opportunity its founders spotted following a joint declaration by EU education ministers in Bologna in 1999 that initiated the Bologna Process to promote transparency of qualifications and mobility of graduates in Europe.

The product of the process was the diploma supplement, which European higher-education institutions are obliged to issue to every graduate under the Europass Decision by the European Parliament in December 2004. The Europass initiative will see the implementation of an electronic framework to promote mobility of labour that will comprise five electronic documents about the individual: a Europass CV, language passport, mobility document, certificate supplement and diploma supplement.

Framework Solutions researched and developed a system called Digitary over the past four and half years for the online issuing and authentication of official graduation-related documents.

In the past year UL has acquired the Digitary technology from Framework Solutions and has since issued more than 12,000 documents to graduates and students. Each of this year’s graduates will receive documents that include an Official Transcript of Results and an Award (equivalent to an electronic parchment).

“Our product implements electronic signatures for the issuing of these official documents. Graduates get the means to define access permissions for employers or third-level institutions,” explained Dempsey. “In terms of data protection it is the graduate’s choice whether he or she leaves the documents open or restrict them for access by individuals for a certain amount of time. Advanced electronic signatures are used to authenticate the documents.”

Dempsey explained that the company is currently in talks with a number of other academic institutions in Ireland and the UK as well as technical specifiers in Hungary, Germany and France.

“This is a Europe-wide opportunity for Framework Solutions,” he explained. “There are approximately 1,500 higher-education institutions across the enlarged EU as well as an additional 16 countries including Russia that are committed to the Bologna process.”

By John Kennedy