Tomorrow is Chancellor @RishiSunak’s budget announcement, where he will be setting out the UK government’s spending priorities. Usually, this is a good opportunity for issuing rapid response comment. So far, conflicting rumours have been spreading. Some said the Chancellor would lay out plans to balance the country’s budget, while others said he’d focus on supporting the country through the continuing pandemic and save book-balancing measures for another day.

Key policies potentially being announced include new plans to get young people in England into work after the disruption to their careers caused by coronavirus. The chancellor will announce £126m funding for 40,000 new traineeships, alongside new cash incentives for firms to take on apprentices and a new programme allowing apprentices to work for a number of employers within a sector rather than stick to just one job.

It looks like there will be a focus on tech-led growth as in the most recent spending review, the chancellor laid out his plans for a National Infrastructure Bank, which would help co-fund local infrastructure investments. It looks like the bank must also invest in digital infrastructure. In addition, the chancellor, will this week welcome a report that will call for major reforms to the London stock market's listings regime in a bid to encourage more technology 'unicorns' to go public in the UK.

Edward Blake, Area VP UK&I, Absolute Software comments:

“The education sector has been hit particularly hard during lockdown, with millions forced to teach and learn remotely, often whilst juggling family duties. The government’s swift distribution of tens of thousands of new laptops to enable online learning for the most vulnerable is to be commended, but much more needs to be done as schools, colleges and universities begin to reopen.

The reality is that online learning in some capacity is now here to stay and organisations need to ensure they have the necessary security systems in place to protect against outsider cyber threats. That’s why it’s vital that schools and higher education institutions recognise that each and every laptop is a potential route in for a malicious hacker. Tackling this issue means having complete visibility into the device network, so that every laptop can be properly protected with encryption technologies, as well as having the ability to track, freeze and wipe devices in the event of theft or loss.”

The University of Kent has responded to the increasing demand for cyber security and Artificial Intelligence (AI) expertise and skills with the launch of two new MSc Computer Science conversion courses designed for graduates from any discipline.

With AI and cyber experts becoming increasingly sought after by companies and organisations in sectors such as healthcare, finance and transport, the MSc Computer Science (Cyber Security) course will provide postgraduate students with the opportunity to establish a foundation in cyber security from technical and multidisciplinary perspectives. It will also enable them to acquire the technical skills and knowledge necessary to identify and solve complex security and privacy problems, including, encryption, authentication, information security management and cyber security risk.

Dr Rogério de Lemos, Director of Graduate Studies (Taught) at the University’s School of Computing, said: ‘With cybercrime a growing threat to society, democracy and businesses we designed this programme to tackle the socio-technical challenges associated with safeguarding security and privacy, and to meet the demands of organisations seeking to protect valuable data.’

Kent is recognised by the British Government as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research, which means graduates will be taught by staff who are top researchers in this area. Postgraduate students of the MSc Computer Science (Cyber Security) conversion course will also benefit from the teaching of some modules shared with Kent’s advanced MSc Cyber Security course, which is fully certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The MSc Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) has been designed to prepare graduates for a career involving the application of computing and artificial intelligence in any professional field. Working with the latest technologies and personalising their studies to explore a range of interests and career ambitions through optional modules, students can develop skills to boost their career prospects. 

According to Dr de Lemos, AI has now reached a stage where it is being utilised in all areas of life, and these operational changes require technical understanding from experts to help organisations adapt and remain flexible to challenges.

Both programmes are available with an optional industrial placement of between eight and 50 weeks. The industrial placement provides graduates with opportunities to work in real-world, technical and business roles, enhancing their study experiences and having a dramatic impact on their options after graduation.

Dr de Lemos added: ‘There are often misconceptions that computer science specialisms such as cyber security and artificial intelligence would only be higher education routes for those who already have a background or undergraduate degree in computing. This is not the case, and we look forward to welcoming graduates from various disciplines to develop their studies in the world of computing.’

Graduates from Kent’s computer science conversion courses have successfully achieved careers with leading software, technology, and commercial global companies such as IBM, Cisco, Logica/CMG, Pfizer, Reuters, Shell and Zurich Financial.

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