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Subject Spotlight : BSc (Hons) Computing

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Article by: Meera Bhanji

Welcome to our subject spotlight. Over this series, we are going to be looking more closely at specific subject areas to examine their relevance, career prospects, benefits and any potential study considerations. Each spotlight will also include a handy fact file featuring quick reference study info.

Subject Spotlight: BSc Computing

Don’t dismiss a degree for getting ahead in IT

IT professionals are in high demand. In June 2015, positions in this field were the fourth most sought after by recruiters and many estimates suggest it will be the biggest jobs growth area of 2015.

And not just in the UK. A NACE survey of 260 leading global businesses revealed that almost half are looking to recruit computer science graduates in 2015.

Given the rapid rate of development in digital and technology sectors, and the widespread integration of IT and communications into modern workplace infrastructure, this surge in demand is not unexpected. But what many may find surprising is that a large number of these positions are being left unfilled because there aren’t enough candidates with the right qualifications. There is an IT skills shortage.

There are also significant financial rewards for pursuing an IT related career. Computer Science graduates are among the most highly paid with typical starting salaries ranging from £22,000 to £32,500 depending on location. Jobs website Adzuna estimates that graduates with strong Java knowledge can demand an annual salary of around £35,000. The average non-graduate salary is £15,370.

With such promising career prospects, why is there a shortage of suitable candidates?

Dr Philip Hallam, CEO of RDI – a leading provider of IT programmes through distance learning, said: “For many sectors struggling with recruitment, the complaint is often that candidates have the formal qualifications but lack ‘real world’ workplace skills. For many in this sector, it seems the opposite is true.”

“The IT industry is attracting a generation of budding computing entrepreneurs that have grown up with technology at their fingertips but who lack the essential skills and knowledge they need – the building blocks that a computing degree provides. Those studying for an IT degree have the best of both and so are in a very strong position.”

Interestingly, whereas applications for degree subjects such as mechanical or general engineering – another recognised UK skills shortage area – have risen by around 80% in the last decade, the increase in computer science applications (though significant) is around half this rate for the same period. But with further sector growth and such strong career prospects, Computer Science and IT degree application rates are almost certain to start closing the gap.

IT & Computing degrees – the fact file

What type of qualification with I get? Students on IT & Computing degree courses will normally obtain a BSc (Hons) qualification. Course names may vary between institutions but the most common are Computing, Computer Science or Information Systems. Specialist degrees are also available (see below)
Do I have to go to university to study?  No, there are many ways to study for and IT & Computing degree. Online, part-time, and blended (part online, part face-to-face) options are all available.
How long will it take? Degree courses are normally three years. Most students studying part time/online are expected to complete the course in 4.5 years.
What entry requirements are there? Requirements will vary. In most cases, an A Level maths qualification (or equivalent) will be required. Often, work experience can be taken into account alongside other qualifications.
What type of jobs could I get? Prospects aren’t restricted to ‘IT companies’ as most businesses value IT and computing skills, making this a very flexible qualification. From Data Analyst and Application Programmer to Project Manager and Business Development Office, the opportunities are extremely varied.
What type of salary could I expect as a graduate? In 2014 Computer Science topped a league table of graduate starting salaries. Average figures range from £22,000 to £32,500 depending on geographical location.
Do I have to specialise in a specific area? No you don’t. Computing or Computer Science BSc degree courses will cover a range of theory and applied work. Degrees in niche areas are available such as mobile computing, information management, security IT, however, specialist courses are more commonly MSc level.

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