Cambridge computing profs 'desperate' for applicants
Increasingly generous percentages grudgingly considered for acceptance
The computer sciences department at Cambridge University has said it is "desperate" to attract more students to its courses, despite the fact that it currently turns down two applications in three.
The Guardian quotes Jack Lang, a lecturer at the Cambridge computer laboratory, as saying that:
"People seem to think computer science is for nerds... It's just not true... It is the basis on which planes are controlled, our bank accounts are guarded from identity fraud and the NHS is kept running."
It seems that last year, a measly 210 youngsters applied to study computer science at Cambridge, and disgusted profs were forced to accept 70 of them. They prefer to reject a higher proportion; in 2000, back in the good old days, 500 applied and 400 were turned down.
"We want potential students to know that the burst of the bubble is well and truly over," said Professor Andy Hopper, head of the Cambridge computer lab.
"There is a shortage of computer scientists in this country, jobs to be filled and the chance to get rich."
Across the University, on average 28 per cent of applicants are offered a place to study, so on the face of it the IT lads' 33 per cent stats aren't so very bad. In fact, if you look at the 2006 figures you can see that plenty of subjects were less popular than Computer Science. Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic offered places to 53 per cent of applicants; Classics, 55 per cent; and Education Studies, 60 per cent.
Even the English department, offering a very pleasant and leisurely three years, was only a tad ahead of the computer guys, offering places to 25 per cent of those who asked. Tough departments requiring serious mathematical competence were in some trouble, too, owing to the national shortage of schoolchildren willing to tackle hard sums. Engineering profs were offering places to 29 per cent of those who knocked on their door, and the actual Maths department was compelled to take an embarrassingly high 38 per cent.
However, Professor Hopper probably doesn't want to be compared to these departments. He can accept students with a somewhat lower level of maths ability, and he'd like it if people saw a computing degree as a surefire path to wealth and prestige, like the departments of Law, Medicine and Social/Political Science*, all lying at almost five applicants per place in 2006 - just like comp-sciences back in the glory days of Bubble 1.0.
"Ours is a rigorous and demanding course that produces graduates able to both manage and innovate," insisted Hopper's deputy, Prof Peter Robinson.
Computer departments nationwide have still failed to recover from the dark days of 2001. Hopper and Robinson may have to wait a while before they're back up with the lawyers, doctors and political wannabes. The Guardian report is here. ®
*SPS at Cambridge is the equivalent of the (in)famous Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree at Oxford. It's the course you take if you're thinking of being a politician, high ranking civil-service mandarin or similar.
Fuck the BSc's!
If you think you can really make due with a bachelor degree and presume to be "high-tech", then you are certainly asked to get screwed! We don't need more half-arse nerds around! We need fully fledged masters and phd's who can put some awesome but terrible complex systems together!
Yes, the indian MSc's are probably a lot better than the domestic BSc's, but that is hardly a equal comparison... The "western" MSC's are ALOT better than the indian!
(I don't buy, it is a cultural difference! We are generally equally capable!)
And to all the old geezers who are complaining about how the values have been corrupted - stick it in! There has gone massive of hard-core CS research into creating the tools of a modern IT developer! And there will go even more into the development of the next generation of tools.
The complexity of systems is generally exploding, thus we need all the help we can get from these tools, if new projects are to succeed without getting outrageously expensive or simply fail!
For the same reasons is it only natural that professionals needs to know more about "project management" - whether that is a business subject is left as an exercise for the reader. ;)
Yes, there are challenges to be met, but the job prospective of IT graduates haven't been this good in ages!
Maybe the fear of rejection is putting too many people off from applying at Cambridge?
I got into Computer Science because I thought it was challenging, I want to do all the hard calculations! but somewhere down the line I've ended up as a web developer which to be fair isn't the most challenging thing in the world.
I also think that software engineering is in a process of "dumbing down". what with new languages and frameworks provided for you, all the hard complicated stuff has been encapsulated for you into neat little boxes.
Business skills is the way to go?
Eek! Show me a plane controlled by software written by a bunch of people with business degrees? More to the point, when I get to the airport show me one that isn't.