July 2014 Webletter

Notes from the Chair

Welcome to the fourth Webletter from the CPHC Committee. This has been created in response to requests from Members for more information on the activities of the Committee during the year, rather than just the updates that are provided annually at Conference.

The Chair’s presentation at the conference Looking Inward; Looking Outward; Looking Forward  discussed some of the issues that have been occupying CPHC over the past year and those that will be of concern in the future.

The Committee has met twice since the annual conference, in May and in July, developing the CPHC activity agenda for the year and initial planning for the 2015 cphc conference. The next meeting will be on 6 October.

Representatives from the BCS Academy (tbd) and UKCRC (Morris Sloman, Imperial) are co-opted members of the CPHC Committee. CPHC in turn is represented on the BCS Academy Board (Sally Fincher, Kent) and UKCRC Executive Committee (Edmund Robinson, Queen Mary).

Contact Sally Smith for further information.

CPHC Conferences and CPHC AGM

The 2014 conference, The Future of Computing, was held at Loughborough University on 7/8 April. Materials, presentations, biographies, etc. now available. https://cphc.ac.uk/what-we-do/conferences/conf2014/schedule/

The 2014 AGM was held during the conference. Papers are available at https://cphc.ac.uk/what-we-do/conferences/conf2014/

The treasurer reported a healthy financial position in the current financial year (which ends 30 June 2014), giving scope for supporting new initiatives.

Sally Fincher (Kent) chair of the Learning Development Group reported that the Working Group on a disciplinary-specific Student Survey had concluded its work, and a new group had been launched working with the revision of the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement, acting as liaison with the CPHC community, both for input and comment

Carsten Maple, chair of the Information Group, highlighted responses to requests/publications including National Occupational Standards for Information Security, an article by Rohan Silva in the Observer and a House of Lords select committee on immigration and its impact on HE.

Elections of officers and committee members took place at the AGM. Sally Smith (Edinburgh Napier) was elected as chair, Carsten Maple (Bedfordshire) as vice chair and Edmund Robinson (Queen Mary) as treasurer.   Iain Phillips having completed his two-year term of office as chair became immediate past chair, Lachlan MacKinnon completed his term as immediate past chair and Carsten Maple relinquished the post of treasurer on becoming vice chair. David Duce continues as secretary for one more year. Sally Fincher (Kent), Stephen Jarvis (Warwick) and Ian Wells (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David) were re-elected to the Committee and Balbir Barn (Middlesex) and Miltos Petridis (Brighton) joined the committee for the first time, all for 2 year terms of office.

The 2015 conference will be held in London, provisionally scheduled to start on 27 April.

Contact David Duce for further information.

Summit Meeting

CPHC has called for a summit meeting to explore the issues behind what David Willetts recently referred to as employer ‘frustration’ about the lack of skills in Computer Science graduates. Research done by CPHC supports the view that there is a complex landscape here and so the Committee want to initiate talks between the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, industry representatives and universities to establish how we can work in partnership to ensure we are acting together for the benefit of our students and the economy.

Contact Sally Smith for further information.

Research Activities

The Committee has commissioned new research on attrition rates.

Contact Carsten Maple for further details.

Computing At School

CPHC is working with the British Computer Society Academy and with the Computing At School (CAS) working group to promote this activity. CPHC has contributed £20k from our membership and committee funds to support the work of CAS.

Contact Sally Smith for further information.

Information Group

The Information Group is driving forward with an initiative to provide members with new subject-specific research to help them develop strategies for implementation at a local level.

CPHC provided written evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology International STEM Students http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/science-technology/IntlSTEMstudents/IntlSTEMstudentevidence.pdf (March 2014)

Carsten Maple (Bedfordshire), Edmund Robinson (QMUL) and Rupert Ward (Huddersfield) form the backbone of this group.

Contact Carsten Maple for further details.

Learning Development Group

CPHC sponsored a white paper on Computer Science – Driving Entrepreneurship, authored by Dr Peter Norrington, published in April 2014. https://cphcuk.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/cphc-computer-science-driving-entrepreneurship-final.pdf The report “presents the findings of a snapshot review to highlight spin-out, start-up and student-based models for entrepreneurship throughout computer science departments in the UK, showing how computer science can create jobs and growth” and includes four case studies of entrepreneurship activities.

Sally Fincher and Iain Phillips are involved in the Working Group to revise the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Computing.

Contact Sally Fincher for more information

Scottish Group

Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s ICT & Digital Technologies Sector

On the 11th March the Skills Investment Plan was launched along with a commitment from the Scottish Government of over £6m investment, designed to address the shortage of skilled IT professionals across Scotland. Recommendations include encouraging more applications for CS university places and student placements. It was launched during Make Young People Your Business in Digital Technology week (see http://www.ourskillsforce.co.uk/recruit/make-youngpeople-your-business/ and http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/-6-6m-for-digital-Scotland-a3c.aspx).

The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance

SICSA,our collaboration of Scottish Universities around Informatics and Computer Science research and education, are holding their 6th annual PhD conference at the University of St Andrews University in June. Aimed to bring research to industry and potential investors, DEMOFest was held in Glasgow in November with DEMOFest North in Aberdeen in February 2014.

e-Placement Scotland

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, e-Placement Scotlandis a Scotland-wide computing placement project which is now in its fourth year. The project has created over 800 paid placements across Scotland and has just produced a placement landscape report detailing all computing placement schemes offered by Scottish universities. Copies are available on request from Sally Smith.

Contact Sally Smith for further details.

Welsh Group

The Council of Heads of Computing in Wales/Cyngor Penaethiaid Cyfrifiadura Cymrun (CPCC) provides a forum for those engaged in managing Computing research and teaching in Welsh Higher Education. An exercise is currently in progress to collect data to determine approximately how many Computing/Computer Science staff and students CPCC represents in Wales across all institutions. An audit of facilities is also being conducted.

The Welsh University Situation

Many Welsh Universities have already progressed through significant internal restructuring exercises this year and some are about to embark on such a process so a degree of uncertainty remains. Although the general (national) structure of Welsh universities appears – for the time being at least – stable, there remains general unease regarding the situation in which Welsh students find themselves and the current policy of Welsh Government to allow its funding support for Welsh students to be taken over the border to English universities.

Welsh Schools

There has been considerable recent discussion of the English “Network of Excellence” and its applicability in Wales. The CPCC chair (Vic Grout) had contacted the NoE organiser with a view to establishing exactly what support was available in Wales (as opposed to England) and the situation appeared somewhat complex. However, although the NoE is officially an English venture, there are areas in which Welsh universities (and schools and colleges) are able to apply for and benefit from similar funding streams and initiatives. It should be noted, however, that certain types of funding – European or Welsh government – may only apply to the currently established “Convergence Zone”.

Most Welsh universities now seem to be fairly active in their engagement with schools, colleges and teachers. Bangor University, for example is working closely with teachers in north-west Wales and Glyndwr University has an established Postgraduate Certificate in Computing aimed specifically at school teachers looking to make the transition from schools’ IT provision to Computing and Computer Science.

HPC Wales

After a slow start, the HPC Wales bursaries programme for university programmes and modules appears to be flourishing. A number of examples can be offered. Cardiff Metropolitan University is running an HPC module, which HPCW are helping to deliver. Bangor University has approximately 40 students on an equivalent module, with HPCW assisting with the lab work. Glyndwr University is offering a complete Masters programme in HPC. Bursaries are available of £300 (per student) for an undergraduate module, £500 for a postgraduate module and £2000 for a PhD, although the award is only payable through the university (not directly to the student) and only for students who will complete their awards by the end of the project – summer 2015. It is also noted that the HPC Wales CEO has moved on from the position.

CPCC Administration

The current pattern of meetings is presenting some difficulties with respect to locations and timing. Hence it has been agreed that it will be appropriate, and more effective/efficient, to hold virtual meetings at certain times of year, with a single face-to-face meeting – in the form of an AGM – held in Cardiff once a year. To compensate for the reduction in conventional meetings, it is suggested that a less formal face-to-face meeting could be held for delegates attending the CPHC conference, wherever that conference is located.

Contact Vic Grout for further details.