A site that previously housed codebreakers during World War II is now set to become the first national college of cyber education in the UK and will begin enrolling students for the fall 2018 semester.
The new school, to be funded both publicly and privately, was recently announced by Qufaro. Created by cyber security experts from such companies as Cyber Security Challenge UK, the National Museum of Computing, the Institute of Information Security Professionals, Raytheon, and BT Security, the not-for-profit was launched as part of an initiative focusing on the creation of a national cyber security hub.
In speaking of the current state of IT education in the UK, Qufaro chair Alastair MacWilson called it “complex, disconnected, and incomplete, putting us at risk of losing a whole generation of critical talent.”
MacWilson went on to say that, currently, those seeking a career in cyber security must do so through an incomplete pathway. It is the goal of the program to connect the initiatives that already exist and then fill in any gaps.
Work has already begun making repairs to the buildings at Bletchley Park, where more than 70 years ago mathematician Alan Turing was able to break the “unbreakable” Enigma code used by Nazi Germany. The school is expected to open in G-Block, one of the largest buildings in the complex, with upgrades and repairs expected to total £5 million.
Despite sharing space with the Bletchley Park Museum, the school will not be connected to it.
Nestled between the historical attraction and the National Museum of Computing, the school is expected to enroll a total of 100 students between the ages of 16 and 19 in its first year, although that number will increase to an estimated 500 students. Students will be selected through a combination of talent spotting as well as an entrance exam rather than through academic qualifications or previously demonstrated skills, reports Tom Mendelsohn for ArsTechnica. It is expected that the school will house 90% of the students.
In all, 40% of its curriculum will focus on cyber studies. The remainder of the classes will include studies in math, computer science, economics, and physics.
“Bletchley Park we felt was a natural home for a cyber security college because it’s building on the innovation and the work that took place in the Second World War, bringing it up to date and making it relevant again,” said Tim Reynolds, deputy chairman of the National Museum of Computing and a director of Qufaro.
Referring to the program as a “one-stop-shop,” Reynolds went on to say that the school hopes to offer the educational support needed for the expertise that is currently in existence in the area of cyber security in order to ensure that the students complete the program ready to either enter the workforce or go on to college, writes Alex Fraser for Reuters. One of the main goals of the school is to increase the number of girls who study STEM subjects. In order to address this issue, one-third of the students accepted will be female, writes Sean Coughlan for the BBC.
A volunteer at the National Museum of Computing, 84-year-old Margaret Sale, said she would like to see the legacy of Bletchley Park preserved through the introduction of the new school.
“It will have a different feel because the world is so different. Now we know what is in people’s speeches before they even sometimes know it themselves. So much has changed … But basically it’s still the same thing. It’s making sure that you are one step in advance of your enemies.”
Tony Sale, Margaret’s late husband, was responsible for the rebuilding of a replica of the Colossus. The first electronic computer in the entire world, the Colossus was used to decipher codes that had been sent from the Lorenz Cipher, the machine used by the Nazis.