Birmingham City University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 4195-4204
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
The computer industry is dominated by prominent hardware and software vendors such as CISCO, Microsoft, Citrix and Apple. Traditionally, academic programmes have focused on furnishing students with generic vendor-independent skills which provide a foundation for careers in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. However, employers are continually seeking applicants with appropriate vendor certification as a minimum benchmark to demonstrate possession of the technical skills required for the design, implementation and management of secure computer networks. This poses a challenge for recent graduates seeking their first networking role. There is therefore a need to balance the requirements of educational programmes with the immediate demands of employers for certified networking professionals.
The paper discusses the experience of leveraging collaborative relationships between industry network vendors and 15 UK universities to enhance the learning and teaching of computer networks. Vendor academies enable vendor specific resources to be incorporated into the higher education curriculum to support the development of the next generation of networking professionals. In this context, the term ‘vendor resources’ is used to encompass access to hardware, software, online training materials and certified instructors. The role of vendor academies in contributing to the design and delivery of higher education academic programmes which prepare students for vendor certification is evaluated. The impact on graduate employability of incorporating vendor resources in higher education is then assessed by a survey of 225 graduates across the UK. The paper concludes by identifying the challenges that need to be addressed to facilitate university collaboration with industry vendors to ensure that university graduates have the prerequisite technical skills required to secure employment and start their career as ICT network professionals.
University-industry collaboration, employability, network professionals, vendor resources, ICT skills, curriculum design.