Reviewers named to ensure computer science degrees are fit for future

Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir William Wakeham to lead STEM degree government review to improve quality and graduate employability

Greg Clark, minister for universities, science and cities, announced today that Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Sir William Wakeham will lead the review of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degree accreditation to improve quality and graduate employability.

When the government announced its science and innovation strategy in December, it included plans to commission a general review of STEM with a specific review of computer science degree accreditations.

The £6bn Science and Innovation Strategy was created after concerns were raised that computer science graduates had the highest unemployment rates of any subject area.

The independent review aims to explore how STEM degrees can be strengthened to ensure students are equipped with up-to-date skills.

Shadbolt will lead a review of computer science degree accreditation and graduate employability, and Wakeham will work with accrediting bodies, higher education and industry to decide whether other STEM degree subjects would benefit from a similar review.

Clark said: “It is crucial for the UK economy that we equip graduates in STEM subjects with the high-quality skills required of the workforce of the future and I am delighted that Nigel and William have agreed to take on this important piece of work.

“Both Nigel and William have a long and distinguished career in the academic field, close links with industry and a proven track record of delivering high-quality work on behalf of government, which makes them ideally suited to lead these reviews.”

Read more about STEM degrees in the UK

Employers' network the Tech Partnership welcomed the review. Phil Smith, CEO UK & Ireland at Cisco and chair of the Tech Partnership, said: "University computer science courses provide an important recruitment pool for the sector. As a growing network of employers from right across the economy, the Tech Partnership has considerable experience of collaborating with universities to create new degree programmes that deliver outstanding academic and employment outcomes. We will be pleased to bring this experience to the review."

Susan Cooklin, CIO of Network Rail, said: “Good graduates are the lifeblood of our business. A great education really helps young people embark on a successful long-term career in the fast-changing digital world.

“We need many more bright, motivated students with three core capabilities: relevant technical knowledge, an understanding of business, and the interpersonal skills to work successfully with others."

Ray Dawson of Loughborough University's department of computer science said: "Ensuring our graduates leave us with the best possible academic performance and employment potential is very important to us.  

“Technology moves fast and, collaborating with employers, we work very hard to offer our students an engaging educational experience that is up to date and relevant to a wide range of careers. Different universities have different challenges in terms of employment outcomes, and sharing our experiences as part of this review will be helpful to all of us."

Paul Fletcher, group chief executive of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, said BCS was pleased to be working with the Tech Partnership on degree accreditation. “Bringing together employers, professional bodies and universities is the way to best ensure accreditation is as valuable as possible to all stakeholders - in particular the individual who wants a great education and a great career,” he said.

Read more on IT education and training