Computer science

teaching programming outside computer scienceBy Cyril Pernet, University of Edinburgh, Krishna Kumar, University of Cambridge, Laurence Billingham, British Geological Survey.


When: The Software Sustainability Institute Fellowship face-to-face selection day (November 2, 2016) involved several sessions including group discussions. This group discussion was about education and software.

Who: The group was composed of Dr Laurence Billingham, Dr Elena Vataga, Dr Krishna Kumar, Dr Cyril Pernet.

What: The discussion was about teaching programming and best practices at universities: whom we should teach, what should be taught and when…

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The Software Sustainability Institute was asked to take part in the debate about the employability of computer scientists and the ideas that have been proposed to help the situation. For our next post on the issue, we wanted a perspective from a computer science department, so we are very pleased to publish this post from Joyce Lewis at the University of Southampton.

By Joyce Lewis, Senior Fellow for Partnerships and Business Development at the University of Southampton.

It all depends what you mean by computer scientists... The statistics collected by UK universities through the annual DHLE (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education) appear to show that a number of graduates from courses that have the words Computer or IT in their titles are not in graduate-level jobs six months after graduation, and that this constitutes the highest proportion by subject of any graduates. However, a very large number of degree programmes are grouped under the Computer Science/Software/IT heading, and there is considerable variation in the employability figures between similar courses even at the same university.

There is a (not unexpected) correlation between high entry grades and employment success. Often the courses with lower employability rates…

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By Devasena Inupakutika, Software Consultant.

How do we get more girls involved in science at school, and keep them interested when they go to university? One answer is the STEM Careers Event, which took place at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College last month of this year. Here, students were given a chance to try out a wide range of engaging tasks and find out why and how careers in science and engineering can be exciting and fulfilling for girls too.

Guiding them along were mentors from across the disciplines - including me. I was there with the rest of the Robogals Southampton chapter, and helped teach programming along with Amy Tong from the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS). Robogals, a worldwide and student-run organisation, encourages girls to consider a future STEM career through talks and workshops, and shows them the big difference they can make as engineers and researchers.

The good news on the day was that of the 80 young people who turned up, around 55 were girls. Working with groups of 20 at a time, we were able to show them how to understand the basics of infrared, ultrasonic, light and sound sensors and how to…

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JobCentre.jpgBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

There are more unemployed graduates in computer science than in any other discipline (see my last post). In an attempt to understand the issue, David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities and Skills, recently held a workshop that brought together leading representatives from industry and academia, and the Software Sustainability Institute. In this post, I’ll discuss my take on some of the ideas that were discussed.

If you want good quality graduates you need to start young, so the first focus is schools. Programming has just been introduced to the national curriculum, which is a great first step. Now we need teachers who are both knowledgeable and - most importantly - passionate about computer science. Computer science is all too often taught by people whose first degree, and general interest, lies in another domain. We must attract talented computer scientists into teaching so that they can pass on their excitement about the subject to the next generation.

It’s a momentous day when you choose what to study at university: with a single decision, a bewildering range of…

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JobCentre.jpgBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

Over the last few years, HESA's study of graduate careers has awarded computer science with the unwelcome honour of the lowest employment rate of all graduates. Last year, about 14% of computer scientists were unemployed six months after graduation. So what's wrong with computer scientists?

We will soon be attending a strategy meeting on the future of UK computer science degrees, and we want to represent your thoughts on this problem. If you have any ideas or arguments, please comment below, email us or tweet with the hashtag #wwwcs.

Industry has reported unfulfilled demand for computer science positions, which seems odd with a surfeit of computer scientists available. It's not yet clear whether the positions are being offered to graduates from other disciplines or being left vacant. There have also been complaints from industry that 

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