Head of Computer Laboratory calls for more computer scientists

Professor Andy Hopper refutes Government Statistics

Professor Andy Hopper CBE, head of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University, is keen to encourage more students to study Computer Science and reassure them that job prospects are some of the best in the country. These comments follow the recent publication of Government figures from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) that seem to suggest that Computer Science has one of the worst graduate employment rates.

“The problem with the HESA report is that it simply combines Computer Science, which is a rigorous academic subject underpinning next generation technologies, with a whole host of non-degree level applied and vocational IT courses where competition for jobs is much higher,” says Prof. Hopper.

“The truth is that the demand for good Computer Science degree students is higher than ever and there are more jobs than suitable applicants. Companies such as Facebook and Google are recruiting heavily and there are exciting opportunities with a growing number of start-up tech companies,” adds Hopper. “The worst thing that can happen is that misguided statistics put off the next crop of school students currently deciding on their careers. And with a strong mathematical and theoretical base, Computer Science is applicable to many other industries outside computing and technology.”

Professor Hopper’s comments also follow Google CEO, Eric Schmidt’s criticism of Computer Science teaching in UK schools with more focus on the consumption of technology rather than its creation.  “I was flabbergasted to learn that today Computer Science isn’t even taught as standard in UK schools,” said Schmidt. “Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it’s made.”

“If we are to continue to create and grow global successes from the likes of ARM and Autonomy to Google, IBM and Microsoft, it is vital that we produce more top class computer scientists to help fuel the economy rather than put them off,” says Professor Hopper. “The future is bright for good computer scientists in well paid and rewarding jobs. There are routinely more companies that want to attend our job fair in Cambridge than the numbers in the graduating class.”

The Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge is recognized as one of the best Computer Science departments in the world and according to Government Unistats statistics the Cambridge Computer Science degree course has a 100% graduate employment record along with a 95% satisfaction rating. But similar trends can also be observed for Russell Group universities along with other UK universities that have established a strong reputation for Computer Science.

The UK’s Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) survey studied destinations and expectations of graduates from 2006/07. By the winter of 2010/11, only 3.8% of all graduates from full-time courses in that year were unemployed; but for ‘computer science’ the figure was said to be 5.1%. However, the report also shows that 81.5% of ‘computer science’ graduates were in full time employment four years on from their degree, compared to just 73.2% of all graduates.

Andy Hopper

Andy Hopper is Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge, Head of Department of the Computer Laboratory, and elected member of the University Council. His research interests include computer networking, pervasive and sentient computing, and using computers to ensure the sustainability of the planet.

Andy Hopper has pursued academic and industrial careers simultaneously. He has worked in senior roles for multinational companies; has co-founded a dozen spin-outs and start-ups, three of which floated on stock markets; and is currently Chairman of RealVNC and Ubisense plc. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1996) and of the Royal Society (2006), and was made a CBE for services to the computer industry in 2007.

For more information or comments, please contact:

Dr Robert Harle, University Lecturer, University of Cambridge, 01223 767019
robert.harle@cl.cam.ac.uk

or

Peter Rennison / Allie Andrews, PRPR, 01442 245030, pr@prpr.co.uk / allie@prpr.co.uk

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