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Resigning from the BCS

I have been a Member and a Fellow of the British Computer Society for about 30 years. I joined because I thought that it was important to support professional bodies in computing and software engineering. The degrees of the university I worked for at the time (Lancaster) were accredited by the BCS and, rightly, they expected staff in these institutions to support them.

I never thought that the BCS accreditation process was particularly good or contributed much to the quality of education, nor because of our geographical location, did I manage to attend many BCS meetings. Nevertheless, I continued my membership because of my general feeling that this is something that a professional should do.

However, I have now decided that enough is enough and that it’s time to leave the BCS. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Subscriptions seem to go up every year by more than the rate of inflation and I get very little for this subscription. The BCS’s magazine for members (IT Now) is lightweight and, in my view, not worth reading. Normally, it goes straight into the recycling, unread. Most group meetings, which sometimes sound interesting, are in London and the BCS seems to make no effort whatsoever to cater for members outside the south of England.
  2. As I have written previously, I don’t think that the BCS accreditation process is fit for purpose and I have no wish to support this. In my view, it is now damaging the quality of computer science education.
  3. The BCS Academy was supposed to be a ‘Learned Society’, with a focus on more academic computer science. It doesn’t seem to be particularly active, its ‘Research Symposium’ seems to have died a death and those events which take place are mostly in London or the south of England. I can’t really see anything in this for me.
  4. Most of all, I dislike the BCS’s refocusing on ‘Information Technology’. I am an engineer but the BCS insists on calling me a ‘Chartered Information Technology Professional’. I never asked for this and, like I suspect the vast majority of the population, I have no idea what it means. What is seems to me is a ‘dumbing down’ of the whole discipline – exactly the opposite of what’s needed in my view. To be respected, we need to focus on science and engineering not wiffly-waffly ‘Information Technology’.

So, it’s time to leave. With some regret, as I do approve of the principle of professional institutions. The BCS lost its way some years ago when it rejected the opportunity¬†to merge with the IEE (now the IET) to create a software engineering institution and I wonder if it really has any future?

2 Responses to “Resigning from the BCS”

  1. John Hutchinson says:

    Interestingly, that “information technology” umbrella was one we had to adopt when registering a new company. I didn’t really feel that it matched our activities, but there were no alternatives.

  2. Rob Gilliam says:

    As a profesisional software engineer with (then) 20 years’ experience and a BCS member for nearly 14 years (many of these as a committee member in local branches), I finally took the decision to leave “BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT” (as they like to be known these days) back in 2011 when certain information came to light during the debate surrounding the EGM in 2010, and having become increasingly disappointed in the direction “the Institute” was taking under David Clarke’s leadership.

    Clarke has now gone, of course, and it will be interesting to see whether control of (the) BCS can be wrested back from the business-focussed community and respect for engineering and science can be restored or whether the BCS will continue to focus on being the professional body for sys admins and helpdesk engineers.

    In the meantime, while the letters I’d get after my name for rejoining are tempting, I’m still struggling to justify the cost vs. the benefits, especially against the amounts I pay for membership of ACM and the IEEE Computer Society – the latter, especially, is an absolute bargain in comparison!

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