Unis revamp IT courses to lure students

Two universities are changing the content of their IT degree courses for 2007.

The University of Technology Sydney is remodelling its undergraduate programs to better fit the current roles of IT professionals in the industry. As of next year, students enrolling in the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BScIT) program at UTS will choose to major in one of four subjects.

These major choices have been designed provide a foundation for today's typical IT careers: Business Information Systems Management may lead to a career in technology implementation and governance; Enterprise Systems Development to technology building; while Internetworking and Applications and Computing and Data Analytics can lead into technology services.

The new program will also offer more elective subjects offering students greater flexibility and will also allow the degree to be combined with a range of other disciplines. A student might enroll in a combined degree in business and IT, for example, to be awarded Bachelor of Business Bachelor of Science in Information Technology after four years of study.

Changes planned for undergraduate computer science and IT degrees at RMIT University are similarly geared towards flexibility. Besides the usual spread of combined degrees that will remain on offer, RMIT will also make available single IT degrees that allow students to choose their minors from areas outside of IT, including accounting, economics and management.

The non-IT minor option will not be available to students enrolled in IT as part of a combined degree. Single IT degrees will take the usual three years, and combined degrees four years, to complete.

"There is growing recognition of the need for IT professionals to have specialist skills in an IT area, while also having exposure to non-IT areas," said Saied Tahaghoghi, Senior lecturer and school program leader for international programs at RMIT.

Tahaghoghi said that employers realize the need for highly skilled IT staff who are also able to communicate and work with their non-IT colleagues to get the job done.

The new program has been designed with IT professionals on RMIT's Industry Advisory Board, including representatives from IBM, the Australian Computer Society, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, ANZ and Telstra.

"There is still a perception among non-IT people that IT is no longer an area of demand," Tahaghoghi said. "This is in large part due to the hype surrounding the dotcom boom, the Y2K problem, and outsourcing.

"The fact is that business needs IT more than ever and only a limited set of operations can be outsourced overseas."

While university enrollments in IT are currently far from reflecting the country's growing need for IT professionals, the updated programs are expected to have greater appeal.

"I believe that the flexibility of the program will attract students who would previously have not considered doing much study in IT," Tahaghoghi said.

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