Posted Wednesday 13 October 2021
Kingston University's commitment to promoting excellent cyber security education has been recognised with a prestigious silver award from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ.
The recognition means the University has been named an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACE-CSE) by the UK's lead technical authority on cyber security – a feat achieved by only 11 other higher education institutions across the United Kingdom. The ACE-CSE programme aims to help close the UK's cyber skills gap by supporting the next generation of cyber experts.
Cyber security has been a fast-growing area within the University's Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing over the past few years. The Cyber Centre, based within the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, opened its doors in 2018, with a new state-of-the-art cyber security lab for MSc students also now available on campus. The lab hosts a suite of specialist cyber security resources to support ethical hacking, threat intelligence, digital forensics, data analytics and machine learning activities.
The significant investment in cyber was designed to build on the University's existing expertise with a view to meeting a growing demand for cyber security proficiency and education in society, as well as supporting the needs of businesses and organisations within the borough, Head of School Professor Vesna Brujic-Okretic said.
"Kingston University has identified the strategic need for investing in cyber security and the importance of becoming a regional hub for cyber security education," she said. "This recognition from the NCSC will help us deliver on our ambitions to play a central role in developing cyber security strategies for our partners and the public, while providing excellent training to allow our graduates to go on and make a difference in an ever more connected digital world. Demand for our cyber courses has been increasing rapidly in recent years, reflecting our growing reputation in this area and the excellent facilities we have put in place to match that need."
To be recognised as a gold centre, institutions must show they are dedicated to cyber security education excellence across the board, while silver centres demonstrate excellence in certain aspects and convincing plans for the others. Qualifying institutions must have an NCSC-certified degree, with Kingston University's Network & Information Security MSc course receiving its full certification from the government agency last year.
The University has formed partnerships with a range of organisations in the field, including becoming a founding member of CISSE UK, a community of cyber security educators who share experiences, resources and collaborate on mutual projects. CISSE UK is a chapter of the CISSE community in the USA – the first to be established outside of North America.
Alongside its work in educating cyber students, the nationally recognised centre will also play an important role in nurturing cyber security talent more widely across the institution. Staff and students from other courses and faculties will be among the beneficiaries, as well as young people across the borough through outreach initiatives, David Pickard, the University's Cyber Centre coordinator, said.
"This is not just about cyber education for cyber students, it's also about disseminating that cyber culture across the University and beyond, helping to drive cultural change," he said. "At the same time, we want our cyber students to become good communicators, telling their stories as cyber graduates to a range of audiences and informing the wider public of the importance of cyber security in their everyday lives," he said.
NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth Chris Ensor said he was delighted the NCSC had been able to recognise Kingston University as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education for its outstanding approach to cyber security education. "It is a testament to the continual efforts of academics, support staff and senior management that cyber security remains high on Kingston University's agenda," he said. "We very much look forward to working with them over the coming years and strongly encourage other universities to work towards achieving similar recognition in the future."