Next Gen Skills highlights computer science education crisis

Next Gen Skills highlights computer science education crisis
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

March 16th 2012 at 11:09AM

Misalignment between UK education and tech industries must be addressed, insists campaign body

UK technology campaign group Next Gen Skills has highlighted concern over falling numbers of computer science graduates despite the needs of UK industry.

The organisation, led by trade body UKIE, has pointed to what it has called a 'depressing' misalignment of the UK education system with the needs of high-tech industries.

Its statement of concern comes in response to new UK Government figures that demonstrate there are over 17,000 fewer entrants at university level for computer science courses today compared to ten years ago.

Figures released by the UK's Department for Business Innovation and Skills earlier this month suggest that over the last decade there has been a 23.3 per cent drop in the number of students studying computers science at undergraduate level. Furthermore, there has been a 33.8 per cent drop in the number of students entering at graduate level.

“High-tech, knowledge-based industries are major generators of digital intellectual property, and need skilled computer programmers to maintain their growth," said Next Gen Skills campaign chair and life president of Eidos Ian Livingstone.

"These figures are another depressing example of the severe misalignment between the UK education system and the needs of high-tech industries.”

“The declining numbers of students taking computer science degrees is evidence of the long retreat from computer science being taught in our classrooms,  a point made in our ‘Next Gen’ review.

"We need to ensure that the flow of high calibre talent from education to industry is enhanced and not allowed to decline any further. For this to happen we need real intervention in schools, and welcome the proposed changes to the ICT curriculum.

"There is a strong argument for computer science to be a fourth science on the English Baccalaureate.”

According to Next Gen Skills, computer science is the single area of decline in the science, technology, engineering and maths-related degrees identified as important to the UK's tech industries, despite 'massive expansion in access to higher education during this time'.

The Next Gen Skills organisation is devoted to pushing for improvements in the UK education system, with a view to equip future generations of programmers with the skills needed to drive high-tech growth nationally.

Next Gen Skill's last year undertook and published the Livingstone-Hope skills review, which was followed by a change in UK Government attitude towards 'ICT' computer education, which has long been seen to a roadblock to best equipping students for employment in Britain's tech industries.