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5 thoughts on “BCS accreditation considered harmful

  • July 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm
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    The skills and competencies for games programming, web design, healthcare, aviation, finance… are completely different. Accreditation – to date – has been too homogeneous to help either employers or, worse, help students aspire to excel in specialities.

    Accreditation is valuable to the market and students when it is discriminating; it is of value to BCS by its volume.

    PS Toyota discovered that reducing variance was not all it’s cut out to be when they had to fix >30 million cars with the SAME fault.

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  • July 13, 2015 at 1:09 pm
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    I agree with your analysis.

    I employed a lot of graduates at Praxis and Deloitte and course accreditation was never a consideration; we knew the courses that taught the skills we needed, but mostly we just wanted to hire very talented graduates.

    I have supported Oxford University through accreditation visits. The effort required was quite disproportionate to any possible benefit and the focus of the review panel seemed to pay no attention to the exceptional nature of Oxford’s course focus and objectives.

    I resigned my Fellowship of the BCS some years ago, when I lost the final remnants of belief that the BCS would ever regain the understanding (that it had in the 1970s and 1980s) that developing software-based systems is an engineering task, and that it needs the disciplines and professional structures that enable other engineering professions to learn from their mistakes.

    This discussion raises a more fundamental question: who should the universities see as their “customer”? Is it the school students whose fees they hope to get? Is it the students’ parents, who will influence the student’s decision (and often contribute financially)? Is it the first employers (who always seem very critical about the “employment skills” that graduates have)?

    Or should it be the 28 year old graduate, who is finally in a position to judge whether their university education equipped them for their chosen profession and the rest of their life?


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  • July 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm
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    You have nailed this perfectly. As you know I was one of those who advocated St Andrews leaving the BCS accreditation scheme (just after we had been accredited and as a reaction to the process). Our graduates have fantastic job prospects and we have near 100% employability. As you point out, this is not surprising – we take in great school leavers and upscale them with a careful balance of theory and practice – that is what it is all about!


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