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UK unis flaunt new computer science courses

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It is exam season, and naturally universities across the land are gearing up to attract the next wave of students to their courses. Computer science departments are no different. Some are adding to their postgraduate portfolio, while others are trying to tap into new trends and attract a more diverse mix of students.

The University of Derby, for example, is launching a campaign to attract more women to its course, after noticing that not a single applicant for its new Computer Games Programming BSc course was female. The course lecturer, John Sear, says that the dearth of female applicants reflects a "perceived gender divide within the industry".

Meanwhile, computer games programmer and Government advisor Lizzie Haines says that research show that just 17 per cent of those employed in the games industry are women, and of those, even fewer are in software development, or other technical roles.

"Girls don't know that they can work in the games industry, they're not told that games is a good career choice either at school or at university, and if they don't play games themselves it may never occur to them to try it," she notes. "If they do, they find mostly that it’s full of challenges and the opportunity to do cutting-edge programming, as well as good pay, great prospects, and the chance to be creative."

She also points out that the games industry is actively trying to recruit more women because it wants to tap into a so far un-exploited market sector. To do that, they need to hire women game designers, she says.

On a slightly grittier note, Sheffield Hallam University has created a new MSc in Information Systems Security which will provide students with "the professional skills and experience needed both technically and as a manager, and the knowledge to be a competent security professional".

The course kicks off for the first time in the next academic year, and applicants should have a 2:2 or better in Computer Science of a closely related subject. Check it out here if this sounds like you.

Lastly, the University of Bradford has won a $1.2m grant to develop and support a new user-interface for the campus computer system. The idea is that while browsing the web, students should be able to customise the portal-style interface so that they can track other things that matter to them - for example they can set it to remind them of overdue library books.

The funds come from a US-based consortium known as CampusEAI, a non-profit organisation that was set up to help other non-profit institutions with software development and digital content distribution. The $1.242m will be paid to the university over the next five years, and includes hardware, software, project management, installation and training costs necessary to install and operate a CampusEAI Oracle Portal.

Bradford will use the money towards developing a web-enabled campus with mobile computing and wireless networking facilities; web-enabled services for students, staff, business and research partners; and flexible learning programmes that combine traditional and distance learning. ®

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