Companies including British Airways, ITV, the Met Office and Norwich Union, which make up E-Skills UK's Employer Strategic Forum, identified a need for graduates who understand legacy IT.
Norwich Union IT director Ian Butterworth said, "Legacy systems tend to be a feature of large companies, especially those that have grown by merger and acquisition. They are not necessarily a bad thing because, by definition, they have been around for a while and therefore tend to be stable. But they can become a business barrier if they do not support speed to market or they have not been rationalised, which results in a complex operational infrastructure."
He said, "It is harder to recruit legacy skills. We tend to use offshore resources to fill this gap, so we welcome the new training initiative. Although legacy system skills may not be sexy, they are likely to be around for some time yet, so will definitely be in demand."
Margaret Sambell, head of strategy at sector skills council E-Skills UK, said, "The ITMB degree gives students a greater appreciation of technology in business, change management and real-world applications."
Sambells said the intake of students on the course had been four times greater than traditional computer science degrees. The course has also attracted more women, with female students making up 32% of students, compared with the average of 17%.
Oxford Brookes is one of the universities that will offer the course to second-year undergraduates from January 2008.
Bob Champions, ITMB course director at Oxford Brookes, said, "Businesses want to maintain business value in old systems to maximise their return on investment."
He said the course would help students understand how to maintain code in large enterprise systems. "These skills are in short supply. I expect this to be a popular course."
Champion said the course would include industry placements in IT firms and non-IT businesses to help undergraduates gain experience of supporting enterprise applications.
Micro Focus, a specialist Cobol supplier, is providing free development tools, mentoring and access to mainframe experts to students on the course.