De Montfort University has introduced a health informatics degree to help meet the need for IT expertise in the health service.
Starting in September, the BSc (Hons) in health informatics is one of the first full-time degree courses of its kind in the UK.
Bob John, professor of computer science at De Montfort University, said, “There was a growing interest from members of staff with links to the NHS. Also, we are developing a strategy for a more vocational degree in specific areas.”
Entry requirements are the same as that of a computer science degree and will depend on the individual candidate. The course will include modules from the university’s social science faculty on the political and social history of healthcare in the UK, including the current structure of the NHS, as well as standard computing modules.
John said he expected about 20 students in the first year, but numbers would increase thereafter. “The real thrust will begin in 2007, once the course has been marketed properly. Our intake will move up to about 30 students,” he said.
The course takes four years, including a placement year. “All our degrees include a placement year, and we already have students taking places in local NHS organisations,” John said.
The £6.2bn NHS national programme for IT – the largest civil IT project in the world – is driving demand for graduates with health sector-related IT skills.
“We expect students to go into the NHS, its service providers, or into private healthcare,” John said. “However, the degree includes sufficient generic computing skills that if students want to take up opportunities in other areas of computing once they graduate, they can.”