Based in Leicester, in the heart of England, De Montfort University has more than 27,000 students supported by 2,700 staff, including 13 National Teaching Fellows, higher education’s most prestigious teaching awards. This is one of the highest numbers awarded to any university. More than 170 courses are professionally accredited.
Because the DMU focuses on employability and meeting business needs, their courses provide relevancy that give their graduates a head start. The university faces an ongoing challenge, especially in a down economy, to give their students the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. “There have been a lot of changes to the university education in the UK, particularly very recently,” said Andy Collop, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dean of the Faculty of Technology, De Montfort University. “One of the things that has gone right to the top of the agenda is employability for graduates.” There is a skills gap in the United Kingdom, and DMU wants to produce industry relevant graduates that meet the needs of employers.
As a result, DMU has partnered with HP to work collaboratively to design, develop and deliver a series of innovative educational programs to better connect academia and business, as well as to start collaborative research in the areas of cloud, information security, networking and sustainability technologies. Together HP and DMU developed a new Business Informatics degree for students.DMU sees professional certification as an important component, as it provides their students with up-to-date skills, hands-on experience, and a professional qualification that will help differentiate them in the job market. As a result, DMU embraced HP Institute and the HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) certification program as part of the new Business Informatics degree program.
Neil McBride, Reader in IT Management, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University, led the validation of HP Institute at DMU. He found very few other universities embedding industrial certification into their business IT courses. “The HP certification provides a different lens, a different view,” said McBride. “The one thing I think is really good is that when you get the HP ATA certification, you are not getting the same thing as in academia. You are getting a different way of teaching – a different, hands-on approach.”
Collop believes the students in their program take the HP ATA certification, and then finish the degree ready to contribute in industry, particularly with small and medium businesses. McBride agrees, “The industry certification is giving us more employability and making that connection between the academic and the industry for our students.” Students are very excited about the HP ATA certification, and DMU student Ronald Pisa says, “It will be very good for my CV and for myself, because when I actually join a company with ATA qualifications, then I can actually hit the ground running because I will have the credentials the company is looking for.” Students benefit from hands-on instruction in the HP ATA program, with participants working on Remote Labs hardware and software. “This isn’t a traditional education, this is more of a practical learning environment,” said Andrew Owen, a student at DMU. Industry professionals are also seeing the value of the HP ATA certification, such as Mike Wheeler, Solutions Director at Prolinx Ltd. “When you are looking at a number of personnel who are sending in their CVs and looking for employment, obviously the first thing you look at is to see what qualifications they have to give you an indication that they may be capable of filling a role in your organization. So from that point of view certification is important.” Graduates of the HP Institute program will have the skills to fill valued IT roles.