The UK has always thrived as an international trading nation and global leader in science and engineering. As we leave the EU we need to ensure we have the right support in place for our science and engineering education and research ecosystem if we are to continue to succeed in a global economy.
UK higher education is truly world class and our university sector ranks very highly against our global competitors. Just over 20 UK universities rank in the top 200 universities in the world and four of the top ten are UK universities, which is a massive share for a nation of our size. What’s more the university sector contributes £73bn to the UK economy annually. It’s important to note though that advances in most basic and applied science and engineering are now achieved through close international collaboration. It’s vital that as we move outside of the EU we maintain our place within the scientific and engineering communities both within Europe and globally.
It’s essential the UK continues to be a great place for global technology companies to do science and engineering, which means:
- The UK ensures any loss of research funding provided to universities from the EU is replaced from other sources
- The UK is still able to participate in EU research funding, in the same way as for example the Swiss do. UK universities received €8.8b of EU funding over the six year period up to 2013, which has been a steadily growing percentage of research funding for universities over the last decade.
- UK universities are still able to fully participate in European research projects that benefit the UK, such as the European Space Agency or CERN for example, both of which are relevant to computing science and engineering.
- UK universities and our technology companies are still able to fully participate in developing and establishing international technical standards, for example telecommunications standards such as 5G through bodies such as ETSI , or those concerned with future advances in the internet and the web.
- We are able to attract the brightest and best minds from around the world to work in our university and industry research labs.
- We have an outstanding computing education from primary school through to university level, so that our economy and society has the home grown talent it needs to compete internationally.
- Our university graduates continue to have parity of professional status in the European and international workforce with graduates from the other leading nations, which means ensuring our ability to influence and guide international accreditation standards is maintained and even strengthened.
What the BCS can do to support education and research going forward:
- Research funding: We collaborate closely with government research funding councils as well as government departments such as BIS, and will continue to vigorously put the case for continued and growing investment in our universities. In the near future we will also be launching new initiatives to more directly help computer scientists gain continued access to research funding.
- Education standards: Both our own and the Shadbolt review of accreditation of Computer Sciences degree courses showed it was already apparent that BCS accreditation needs to place a greater emphasis on the professional skills undergraduates develop at university. This will be especially important in a world where more than ever employers need professionals able to adapt to an ever changing workplace and able to rapidly turn knowledge and understanding into business value that transcends national borders. Moreover, global employers will want reassurance that accreditation demonstrates new graduates have the right skills to make them effective as part of international teams within Europe or beyond.
BCS is a signatory to the international Washington Accord for Engineering degrees, the international Seoul Accord for IT, and supports the European wide EQANIE standard, of which BCS is a member and an Authorised Agency. These international standards will become even more relevant once the UK moves outside the EU regulatory framework. BCS will work hard to ensure they continue to be important within new frameworks as they emerge.
- The education pipeline: Long term this is one of the most important issues for the UK as we establish our place in the world after the EU. BCS was one of the key stakeholders that persuaded the government to introduce computing into the national curriculum for schools through our Computing At School group (CAS). We now work with ten university regional centres to provide teacher led professional development to schools across the country. This has provided over 56000 hours of support in the last three years alone through the CAS Network of Teaching Excellence. The DfE regards BCS and CAS as key partners in supporting the new school curriculum at the national level.
The world is now watching what happens here in the UK and is rushing to catch up. We’ve provided help and guidance to school delegations from the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Poland, South Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Denmark, Spain, Canada, Australia and Mexico over the last year. We need to make sure we continue to be world leaders in computing education for the future of our children.
Recently BCS secured continued funding from the DfE to run the CAS Network of Teaching Excellence for another two years, which means we will be able to provide computing teachers across England with the support they need to give children the best computing education possible. This funding means we can support schools over this period of uncertainty while the UK negotiates its exit from the EU.
The UK is taking a leap into the unknown. BCS will be doing its part to make sure we are a prosperous and internationally relevant nation, with an outstanding, world class education system and scientific research base, and that global corporations seek out the UK as the first choice for their research and development centres.