Google Australia funds universities to spruik computer science

Search giant to help 12 Australian universities promote IT in high schools, an increase from seven in 2012

Google Australia is providing funding to 12 Australian universities this year to develop workshops that help high school teachers promote computer science in their curriculums.

Under its Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) program, launched in Australia in 2011, Google provides funds to universities across several countries to develop two- to three-day computer science workshops for the teachers.

Funding varies based on the number of participants and other associated costs and is capped at $15,000 for each program, Google said. The search giant provided funding to seven Australian universities in 2012.

The universities to receive funding this year are:

  • The University of Western Australia
  • University of Sydney
  • The University of Queensland
  • Macquarie University
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • Deakin University
  • The University of Newcastle
  • University of Canberra
  • The University of Adelaide
  • University of Tasmania
  • Griffith University
  • University of New South Wales.

Google Australia and New Zealand’s engineering program manager, Sally-Ann Williams, hopes that the increase in the number of universities being funded will ensure computer science education at high schools is up-to-date with the needs of the industry and will grow university ICT enrolments.

“We need to ensure that we’re equipping our students to be future creators, rather than just consumers, of technology,” Williams told CIO Australia.

“Right now, we’re not well-placed as a country to meet demand for the computer science graduates that are needed in the new digital economy. We hope that by supporting computer science at high school level, we’ll increase the number of bright young Australians that go into computer science at university level.”

Australian Computer Society’s head of policy and external affairs, Adam Redman, has also said that computer science education in high schools needs to be updated and would like to see more support for teachers in delivering this to students.

“In some high schools students are assessed on how well they can use the computer, not on how well they understand the computer. Kids today are born technology literate. They don’t need to be taught how to use the computer; they need to be taught what makes the computer work,” Remand said.

“So translated into policy that means a greater emphasis and support to teachers and to encourage high school students to learn maths and sciences so they can learn the fundamentals of computational maths, for example, and relationship mapping, and by the time they get to university they are not confronted with having to figure out what an algorithm is.”

According to the ACS Statistical Compendium 2012 (PDF), the number of students completing an ICT-related degree has halved over a decade, and women only make up 19.73 per cent of the total ICT-related occupation workforce.

The Clarius Skills Index during the December 2012 quarter also shows there were 211,700 IT positions (including vacancies) available during the period but only 207,100 professionals available to fill these roles.

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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Tags GoogleClarius Skills IndexacsCS4HSICT educationcomputer science educationComputer Science for High School (CS4HS)

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