Tag Archives: CS Graduate Employability

Shadbolt Working Groups Set Up

The UK Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC) has formed four working groups in response to recommendations from the recent Shadbolt Report and is now looking for experienced members to join them

The independent review led by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, published on 16th May 2016, discussed accreditation arrangements for computer science degrees to ensure that they continue to be fit for the future.  It focused on the purpose and role of accreditation and how the system can support the skills requirements of employers and improve graduate employability.

Four of the report’s ten recommendations identified particular roles for CPHC, leading to the establishment of the four working groups below …

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Shadbolt and Wakeham

Both the Shadbolt and Wakeham reports on CS and STEM Graduate Employability have now been published and, as predicted, they largely don’t say what the government was hoping they would.

Both reports point to the need to improve the quality of the data available, greater cooperation between all parties and a closer look at programme accreditation.  Nowhere is to be found the university-bashing the reports’ commissioners probably expected.  The full text for each report is available from the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518575/ind-16-5-shadbolt-review-computer-science-graduate-employability.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518582/ind-16-6-wakeham-review-stem-graduate-employability.pdf

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Why has the Shadbolt Review been Delayed?

Publication of the much-anticipated review of computer science degree accreditation and graduate employability by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, has been delayed.  Why?  Is this political?  Does it not say what it should?

Terms of reference for the Shadbolt Review of Computer Science Degree Accreditation and Graduate Employability were published in February 2015.  The background to this was some contested data showing that Computer Science graduates had the highest levels of unemployment across all academic subjects in Higher Education.  Since then CS departments in UK universities have awaited the outcomes with some trepidation, possibly expecting something of a mauling.

Despite a fair amount of work in pointing out that the figures might not really mean what they appeared to (a lot of biasing influences, for example), this concern was hardly helped by the Chair of the Government’s Science and Technology Select Committee, Nicola Blackwood, at a PICTFOR (Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum) during a speech at an evening reception at the House of Lords in December, saying – to all intents and purposes – that CS graduate unemployment was high because CS lecturers in UK universities didn’t know how to teach CS.  Concern in the HE CS community quickly evolved into outright fear.  Rumours about possible content of the Shadbolt review were rife.

However, there’s now a growing suspicion among CS academics that this was uninformed (both Blackwood’s comments and the rumours) and that the review, originally expected in April this year, doesn’t actually say this: that it might not give the universities the kicking the government would like to see them get.  The question has to be asked: is this why there’s been a reluctance to publish?

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