University of Exeter to play key role in £20 million Institute of Coding

University of Exeter to play key role in £20 million Institute of Coding

University part of new consortium announced by Prime Minister to train next generation of digital specialists

The University of Exeter will play a key role in creating the next generation of digital specialists, as part of a new £20 million national Institute of Coding.

Prime Minister Theresa May today (January 25 2018) announced the creation of the high-profile Institute - a 60-strong consortium of universities including Exeter, businesses and industry experts - to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, the Prime Minister outlined how the Institute of Coding will create new degree level courses to equip people of all ages with the digital skills they need.

Exeter is one of 25 universities nationwide to part invited to be a part of the consortium. The University’s involvement will be led by world-leading experts from Computer Science, the Graduate School of Education, the Q-Step Centre and its new Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (IDSAI).   Exeter will lead initiatives on digital skills education for students in disciplines outside Computer Science and on machine learning technologies for giving advice on skill acquisition personalised to individual students.

The IDSAI is designed to form research collaborations and strategic partnerships with industry across the globe, influence government policy in data science, AI and the digital skills agenda, and guide public engagement with social and ethical issues arising from developments in data science and AI, amongst others.

Professor Richard Everson, the inaugural Director of the ISDAI said: “We are delighted to be a founder member of this exciting and important initiative.  The Institute of Coding will not only enhance the digital skills of our students, but also boost employability by bringing universities, employers and students together to develop innovative teaching methods to prepare the next generation of digital economy leaders.” 

The Prime Minister’s announcement follows a nationwide competition, run by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to improve the way universities train people for digital careers.  The government’s £20 million investment will be matched by a further £20 million from industry, including in-kind contributions such as training and equipment.   

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: “A world-class pipeline of digital skills are essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future. By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design.

“The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”

The Institute of Coding is centred around five core themes:

  1. University learners  – To boost graduate employability through a new industry standard targeted at degree level qualifications. IoC programmes will incorporate learning which solves real-world business problems and develops business, technical and interpersonal skills in equal measure.
  2. The digital workforce  – To develop specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance. 
  3. Digitalising the professions – To transform professions undergoing digital transformation (e.g. helping learners retrain via new digital training programmes provided through online and face-to-face learning)
  4. Widening participation – To boost equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers (e.g. tailored workshops, bootcamps, innovative learning facilities and other outreach activities). In 2017, female programmers and software developers made up just 3.9 per cent of tech and telco professionals in the UK.
  5. Knowledge sharing and sustainability – To share outcomes and good practice, ensuring long-term sustainability of the IoC. This will include building up an evidence base of research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills gaps.

Dr Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding, said:  “The strength of the Institute of Coding lies in the fact that it brings together educators, employers and outreach groups to co-develop digital skills education at undergraduate and masters level for learners in universities, at work and in previously under-supported groups across the country.”

Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “The benefits to students from the Institute of Coding are clear: exciting courses designed to meet the needs of employers; exposure to leading research; and increased work experience to support the development of their employability skills and transition to work.”


Date: 25 January 2018

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