Four UK universities have launched a degree course that combines IT, business and communication in a move backed by companies including Ford, Morgan Stanley and Norwich Union.
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To address companies' needs for combined IT and business skills, the universities have designed a course that combines academic learning and industry-related content.
Government sector skills council E-Skills UK has been working on the project over the past few years in response to industry demand for IT professionals who also understand business issues and possess communication skills.
The IT management for business course, which started this month, is initially being offered by the University of Greenwich, Reading University, University of Central England and Northumbria University. Eventually, E-Skills UK hopes 22 universities will offer the course.
Karen Price, chief executive of E-Skills UK, said, "The changing IT skills landscape means that the IT managers of the future will need to bridge the gap between business and IT, requiring a combination of business, management and interpersonal skills as well as technical competencies.
"By working in partnership with companies such as Lehman Brothers, Norwich Union and BT, we have created a degree that has a strong focus on teamwork and managing real projects, to get students contributing faster to overall productivity and reduce employers' training costs."
Employers are engaged with students throughout the course, offering input on content and a series of business lectures.
The first of these "Business Guru" lectures will be delivered today (11 October) by Chris Winter, a distinguished technology engineer at IBM.
Howard Newby, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said, "It makes sense to deliver a degree that responds to what employers actually need.