Sapsiwai - Fotolia

UK government announces CyberFirst bursary scheme

GCHQ will partner with other government departments and private industry to offer students a comprehensive package of financial assistance and cyber skills

The government has announced a student bursary scheme to help support and prepare young people for a career in cyber security.

Led by government intelligence agency GCHQ, the CyberFirst bursary scheme is part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme.

GCHQ will partner with other government departments and private industry to offer students a comprehensive package of financial assistance and cyber skills.

Successful applicants could be offered an annual bursary of £4,000 for each year of degree study in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (Stem) or social science and paid summer work with GCHQ or other parts of government or industry involved in national security to give students the best possible start.

There is also the possibility of three years of work in a cyber security role after graduation and membership of the CyberFirst Student Community, which aims to offer peer mentoring and advice from cyber security experts.

Applications will be open to UK citizens who have three A-levels in at least two Stem subjects and an offer to study an undergraduate degree in Stem subjects or social science at a UK university starting autumn 2016.

Anyone interested in the bursary scheme is invited to register their interest to ensure they are contacted when applications open.  

Read more about the cyber skills shortage

  • Analyst forecasts of a 1.5 million shortfall of information security professionals by 2020 come amid reports of rising salaries, an ageing workforce and the inability to fill existing positions.
  • Harnessing existing expertise could address the demand for competence in countering cyber security threats.
  • IT has an ongoing problematic shortage of enterprise cyber security skills.

GCHQ runs girls-only course

The scheme has been welcomed as providing another way of helping to fill the cyber security skills gap. Europol consultant, cyber security expert and visiting professor at Surrey University Alan Woodward tweeted: “Encouraging young people into cyber security – nice to see government putting some money behind this.”  

In addition to student bursaries, CyberFirst offers a broad range of activities designed to highlight opportunities in cyber, and identify and support talented young people through their education.

For girls, GCHQ is to run a series of girls-only development days as part of CyberFirst Girls Competition from summer 2016, aimed at inspiring and encouraging 14 and 15 year olds to consider further study and a career in cyber security.

For all 16 and 17 year olds, CyberFirst Futures is a 4 day residential course to give hands on experience in understanding vulnerabilities and protecting networks designed by GCHQ and delivered by the Smallpeice Trust.

CyberFirst Advanced for 18 year olds is a free, three-week residential course that teaches skills ranging from ethics to programming.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

Data Center
Data Management