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New Head of School calls for computing courses to reflect employers' needs

Posted Tuesday 31 January 2012

Professor Vesna Brujic-Okretic is an expert in robotics, mechatronics and augmented reality.A leading academic has called for computer science departments to play a more active role in improving the employability of graduates by ensuring courses respond to the demands of the marketplace. "Creating courses that meet the requirements of employers and focusing on the industry context of computing is crucial if students are to secure better jobs upon graduation," Professor Vesna Brujic-Okretic, the new Head of the School of Computing and Information Systems at Kingston University, said. "Universities need to increase links between their staff expertise in research and industry with their education programmes.  By getting students directly involved in the professional world, for example by making internships an integral part of a degree, they can provide a quantum leap in transforming graduates into desirable employees."

Professor Brujic-Okretic's comments come in the wake of media reports alleging some computer science courses are nothing more than 'sausage factories' that have poor employment prospects for those enrolled. "Concentrating on the technology alone is simply not enough," Professor Brujic-Okretic said. "At Kingston University, we give our students first-hand experience in modern technologies such as cloud computing and virtualisation but we also ensure that they can apply these technical solutions to a wide variety of contexts once they enter the workplace."

Concentrating on technology alone is simply not enough, says Professor Brujic-Okretic.Universities need to make extra effort to keep pace with the ever-changing jobs market, Professor Brujic-Okretic added. "There are a growing number of roles that previously didn't exist, such as information architects and web strategists, and these posts require a broader level of thinking and more than one skill set. Universities should be responding to this with courses that are academically sound but can also effectively answer questions and demands from industry and the professional world. And this is already happening at Kingston University."

Professor Brujic-Okretic sees her move to Kingston as a natural progression from her previous work. She completed both her MSc and PhD at the University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia before spending a year undertaking research at Cambridge. She developed her expertise in robotics, mechatronics and augmented reality at the University of Surrey before, in 2003, moving to the Department of Information Science at City University London, initially as a senior lecturer and later head of department.  "I come from a strong theoretical and engineering background but have a willingness to contextualise this with social aspects of computing," she said. "Kingston University is very research active and its focus on the context and application of computer science is very much in tune with my background. Its strong emphasis on professional excellence is something I consider absolutely essential to a working environment."

She is eager that Kingston's students are seen as ambassadors for the integration between technology and people's needs. "They must have the knowledge and competence in creating and using the tools necessary to answer employers' requirements as well as possess a high degree of understanding so they can respond to the needs of clients appropriately," Professor Brujic-Okretic said. "I am determined this is what they will achieve during their time studying at Kingston University."

Find out more about studying computing at Kingston University.

 

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