BCS launches review of computer science degree accreditation

A review of academic accreditation of computer science degree courses has been launched by the British Computer Society (BCS), The Chartered Institute for IT, to ensure that graduates have the skills needed to drive economic recovery and growth across the UK.

The study will involve extensive consultation with the higher education sector, including the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC), the Institute of Coding, leading tech companies and government departments including Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education.

Building on the findings of the Shadbolt review - commissioned by the government in 2016 - the latest work will assess whether computer science degree programmes need to meet a new set of criteria.

Bill Mitchell, director of policy at BCS, said: “As we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, it is apparent that academic and professional practice will need to change in a post COVID-19 world to boost economic recovery - data science and AI are changing the landscape of the industry and it is vital that we look at how accreditation of degree programmes can help ensure future graduates are equipped to deal with the new challenges that will confront them.”

“There is a mandate from employers and the higher education sector to strengthen the current accreditation framework so that it is more focused on outcomes and links more closely with employability," he continued, adding: "Many people, including graduates themselves, tell us they want employment outcomes, and employability, to be a central part of accrediting a degree programme.”

A steering committee chaired by former BCS president Paul Martynenko will oversee the review, which builds on the outputs and recommendations from Shadbolt and earlier BCS reviews such as Scaling Up the Ethical Artificial Intelligence MSc Pipeline.

The project will include:

• The review of progress in reforming BCS academic accreditation of computer science, computing and information technology degree courses since the Shadbolt report was published in 2016.
• An evaluation of what currently works well and is valued by higher education providers, students and employers and establish if fundamental changes are required and if so what those should be.
• Gathering recommendations for reforming accreditation to fulfil the purpose of validating that graduates have gained sufficient academic knowledge and understanding as well as sufficient competencies for a successful professional career in computing or information technologies.

The review will take place during this summer and early autumn.

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