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Open University launches business-led IT degrees

New courses aim to make new graduates ready for the workplace

Open University has launched two new computing and IT degrees that it says will make students ready for business on graduation.

The new distance learning courses, 'BSc (Honours) Computing and IT' and the 'BSc (Honours) Computing & IT and a second subject', have been developed in partnership with sector skills association e-skills UK. They aim to equip graduates with the relevant business skills they need to be prepared for work in the IT industry.

Earlier this year, an e-skills report found that the UK IT and telecoms industry needs more than 110,000 new recruits to just meet this year's demand. Yet at the same time, IT graduates are most likely to struggle with finding a job, and the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) recently found that the unemployment rate for IT graduates had increased to 16.3 percent in 2009.

Kevin Streater, executive director for IT and telecoms at the Open University, said that the university wanted to provide a course that would help resolve this recruitment imbalance.

"We are trying to get graduates to be ready for the workplace. A lot of employers put a graduates through a graduate induction programme, so we have added new work-based courses around project management, business analysis and real-world examples [to avoid the need for induction programmes]," he explained.

"We have tried to see what the differences are between a normal degree and what the business wants from a computing student. We can include the business skills, management skills and industry-recognised vendor skills, such as Microsoft and Cisco technical certifications."

IBM's Paul Jagger, business area manager for learning development at the IT company, was one of the industry members who sat on the committee that oversaw the development of the new degrees.

"Mapping these degrees to BCS (Chartered Institute for IT) accreditations and the SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) framework that underpins IT staff recruitment and development in the UK, gives employers like IBM the confidence that sending staff on these degrees will deliver discernable and immediate returns on their investment," he said.

Logica and Capgemini are among other IT employers who are also looking at the new programmes.

The module-based degrees will last around three years, and typically cost £4,500. More information on the courses, which start in October, can be found here.

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