Inside Knowledge on the gTLD program

“We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teachers leave them kids alone”

Next week the Top Level Domain dotCollege will be launched into the Trademark Sunrise period.  Whilst to many this may seem like “just another” TLD, the education market has so far provided fertile ground for the new gTLDs.

Not only was Monash University the first dotBrand to go live, back in January 2014, but the education-related generic TLDs have so far proved successful.  DotAcademy is still in the top 50 in terms of registration numbers with over 16,700 registrations, leading the way from dotEducation (14,900) and dotUniversity (3,343).  With over 2.3 billion search results for the term “college” in Google, the new TLD will put pressure on the three existing ones to be “top of the class”.

The word “college” is certainly more acceptable in the US as meaning any education institution rather than in the UK where it is seen as secondary to a University.  A recent study carried out by Forbes into the best educational institutes in the USA lists Williams College in Massachusetts as the best of the best, ahead of the likes of Stanford University and Harvard.  In fact in the top twenty, eight are Colleges.  Whilst the position may be different elsewhere in the world, it seems that dotCollege can be applied across a more varied spectrum that dotAcademy and dotUniversity.

The education sector already has a number of TLDs that establishments can use.  The dotEdu TLD was actually released back in 1985 as one of the original seven generic TLDs.  Since October 2001, only post-secondary institutions and organisations that are accredited by an agency on the U.S. Department of Education's list of nationally recognised accrediting agencies are eligible to apply for a dotEdu domain.  Likewise, in the UK educational institutions can apply for a Top Level Domain if they meet the criteria laid down by, the UK’s research and educational network.  Essentially this means the use of education-related domain names has been severely restrictive up until now.

The liberalisation of the whole domain name space with the introduction of nearly 1,200 new Top Level Domains will continue to open opportunities in all industry sectors, but for the educational space, domain suffixes like dotCollege could allow them to break free from some of the restrictions of old.  However, the danger of evolution is revolution.  By removing any registration criteria domain names could be registered by third parties who have malicious intentions.  Anyone could register a real college or educational institution, put up a fake website and ask for payment for enrolment. Therefore existing institutions should act to protect themselves, and their potential students before any long term reputational damage can be done.

Whilst dotCollege may not register on many organisations wish list for new TLDs, for anyone involved in the education sector it is probably one of the most important to be released in the new gTLD program.