EY comments on CBI announcement recommending government scraps tuition fees on STEM courses

12 March 2014

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Mark Brown, Director of Information Security at EY, comments on today’s CBI announcement recommending government scraps tuition fees on some science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses.

“A lack of skilled talent is a global issue within the cyber security sector but it is particularly acute in the UK, where government and companies are fiercely competing to recruit the brightest talent to their teams from a very small pool.

“Since the late 1990s the number of UK-born graduates studying mathematics and science degrees has fallen by almost 70%.  During the same period there has been a dramatic increase in the number of IT and Information Security graduates in emerging economies, specifically India and China, which has led to an increasing shortage of relevant skills and has put the UK's efforts to tackle growing cyber security risks on a back foot. Outsourcing has been seen as the traditional answer to the skills shortage in the UK, but with national economic interests at risk, a public and private partnership to attract a new generation of highly capable and digital aware security professionals in the UK is long overdue.

“Information Security professionals are typically those who have studied for a science, technology or maths qualification and we would welcome any move which encourages greater attendance on these courses. However, we believe the government would be better off encouraging businesses to put in place school leavers programme where companies support individuals throughout their studies and offer employment at the end of these courses.  This will ensure students have a clear career path and avoids any pitfalls, such as students studying for courses purely because they do not incur any tuition fees rather than having an interest in the subject. “