02 July 2020

How will we ensure that computing graduates have the skills needed to drive economic recovery as data science and AI change the industry post COVID-19?

A review of academic accreditation of computer science degree courses has been launched by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, to ensure that graduates have the skills needed to drive economic recovery and growth across the UK.

The study will involve extensive consultation with the higher education sector - including the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC) - the Institute of Coding, leading tech companies and employers and government departments including DCMS and DfE and students.

Building on the findings of the Shadbolt review - commissioned by the government in 2016 - the latest work will assess whether computer science degree programmes need to meet a new set of criteria.

Dr Bill Mitchell OBE, Director of Policy at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said:
“As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, it is apparent that academic and professional practice will need to change in a post COVID-19 world to boost economic recovery. Data science and AI are changing the landscape of the industry and it is vital that we look at how accreditation of degree programmes can help ensure future graduates are equipped to deal with the new challenges that will confront them.”

“There is a mandate from employers and the HE sector to strengthen the current accreditation framework so that it is more focused on outcomes and links more closely with employability. Many people, including graduates themselves, tell us they want employment outcomes, and employability, to be a central part of accrediting a degree programme.”

A Steering Committee chaired by Paul Martynenko FBCS and President BCS 2017-18 will oversee the review which builds on the outputs and recommendations from Shadbolt and earlier BCS reviews such as Scaling Up the Ethical Artificial Intelligence MSc Pipeline. The project will include:

  • The review of progress in reforming BCS academic accreditation of computer science, computing and information technology degree courses since the Shadbolt report was published in 2016.
  • An evaluation of what currently works well and is valued by higher education providers, students and employers and establish if fundamental changes are required and if so what those should be.
  • Gathering recommendations for reforming accreditation to fulfil the purpose of validating that graduates have gained sufficient academic knowledge and understanding as well as sufficient competencies for a successful professional career in computing or information technologies.

Steering Committee members are:

  • Professor Liz Bacon, Deputy Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Abertay University, President of EQANIE (European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education)
    and President BCS 2014-15
  • Professor Tom Crick MBE, Professor of Digital Education & Policy, Swansea University
  • Professor Wendy Dearing, Head of Workforce & OD NHS Wales Informatics service (NWIS)
  • Professor Paul Hanna, Associate Dean (Global Engagement), Ulster University
  • Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Dean, Faculty of Technology, University of Sunderland and VP BCS, Chair BCS Academy Board
  • Professor John MacInnes, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Statistics, University of Edinburgh and Vice President (Professional Affairs) Royal Statistical Society
  • Dr Bill Mitchell OBE FBCS, BCS Director of Policy, committee coordinator
  • Rashik Parmar MBE IBM Fellow and VP Technology Europe
  • Professor Steve Pettifer, Professor of Computer Science, University of Manchester
  • Mayank Prakash FBCS, Wharton Fellow, Centrica Chief Consumer Digital and Information Officer, and Uber UK Board Director
  • Professor Shannon Vallor, Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh Futures Institute)
  • Didier Vila, PhD, Global Head of Data Science - QuantumBlack, a McKinsey Company, Co-Convener of the Global Data Science Guild - McKinsey and Company and Advisory Board Member of the MSc Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School

The proposed review will take place during the summer and early autumn of 2020.

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