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6/1/2009
10:34 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Info Tech Enrollment Booming At Universities In Australia

Several universities in Australia are reporting sharply higher demand for IT degrees just several years after the dot-com crash threatened to put the kibosh on info tech as a viable career. And it's particularly good to see these schools offering interdisciplinary programs that blend intense IT education with parallel immersion in commerce, science, medical, and legal curricula.

Several universities in Australia are reporting sharply higher demand for IT degrees just several years after the dot-com crash threatened to put the kibosh on info tech as a viable career. And it's particularly good to see these schools offering interdisciplinary programs that blend intense IT education with parallel immersion in commerce, science, medical, and legal curricula.Queensland University of Technology said IT enrollment numbers this year are up 15%, with increased enrollment for students from China and India up 60%, according to Australian IT.

"The reality is that jobs in IT actually are pretty secure and the work is very creative and diverse," Professor Simon Kaplan told Australian IT. "Last year, there was a little increase of a couple of per cent and this year the improvement has been really strong."

Kaplan also said the surge in interest in IT degrees is not just a numbers game: "If you look at QUT overall, student numbers didn't move up, but IT has moved up -- so it can't just be the recession," Kaplan said.

At University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Engineering and IT teaching and learning associate dean Wayne Brookes said that while domestic students returning to post-graduate studies accounted for a significant rise in enrollments, the renewed interest in IT degrees was more widespread.

"If you go back four or five years, people were leaving IT and couldn't get jobs, leading to prospective students not wanting to study IT at a university," Dr. Brookes said.

"Whereas, I think there has been a shift in attitude that started a couple of years ago, which has led to the stabilization and then the slight increase of numbers 12 months ago."

UTS reports about a 25 per cent leap in domestic post-graduate commencements, and a 17 per cent rise in international post-graduates starting study.

Australian IT also spoke with Sanjay Chawla, head of the University of Sydney's School of IT, who said he believes that the spike in IT enrollments in Australia is consistent with what's taking place across other Western countries.

"IT enrollments are, generally, up both in undergraduate and postgraduate," Associate Professor Chawla said. "Depending upon how we count, enrollments have increased in the range of 10 to 30 per cent over last year."

Chawla said an emerging trend among this new wave of IT students is their desire to combine their IT education with another field of study, which will lead to a powerful advantage for young professionals entering a job market that no longer sees IT as a detached, walled-off discipline but rather as an integral part of overall business operations.

And as companies look to provide customers with more customized products and services, and understand their need to offer more-meaningful experiences to increasingly sophisticated customers, these blended degrees can amplify the impact of a strong IT education. In that context, University of Sydney "now offers combined programs in IT/Commerce, IT/Science, IT/Arts, IT/Medical Science, and, from next year, IT/Law."

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