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?