Royal Holloway collects new grant for cyber security training

Computer science students claim experience is more worthy than qualifications
Computer science students claim experience is more worthy than qualifications

Royal Holloway University has been given a £3.8 million grant to host a new cyber security training centre.

Issued by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the university will host the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in cyber to address the national need for cyber security expertise at all levels by boosting the number of PhD graduates with relevant skills.

The grant will fund ten PhD scholarships in three annual intakes, with students attending one year of courses in advance of their three-year research programme, where they will experience varied placements in industry during their studies.

Professor Keith Martin, director of the information security group at Royal Holloway, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding, which recognises the strength of our research and teaching.

“While Royal Holloway has operated an excellent graduate school in cyber security for many years, a CDT represents a significantly different approach to research training, and we are looking forward to taking on the great responsibility of delivering graduates who will directly benefit the country.”

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “Businesses are facing more cyber attacks than ever before, putting their confidential information and intellectual property at risk. We must do everything we can to tackle this threat and make them less vulnerable.

“These new centres will produce a new generation of cyber security specialists, able to use their skills and research expertise to improve cyber security and drive growth.”

The news follows last week's announcement that Royal Holloway and Oxford University would receive £7.5 million in government and research council funding to train postgraduate students in cyber security. According to BBC news, £5 million will come from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and £2.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Royal Holloway's centre will be working with about 30 businesses and organisations in the security field, while the Oxford University centre will study security issues concerning Big Data, verification systems and convergence between cyber and physical security.

Mark Sparshott, EMEA director of channels, alliances and OEMs at Proofpoint, said that it welcomed these moves, as the UK needs cyber security experts to raise awareness and expertise throughout the country. “It's clear that we are facing a growing threat, and we have seen attacks become increasingly sophisticated and targeted and most of today's successful breaches are virtually undetectable to most security layers. The UK's cyber security is only as strong as its weakest link however, so education is key, both on a national and organisational level,” he said.

John Yeo, EMEA director at Trustwave, called for universities to ensure that within focused and specialised academic courses, there is a sufficient level of practical, hands-on and industry experience built in, primarily to ensure students maximise their employability and value to hiring organisations upon completing their course.

Paul Davis, VP of Europe at FireEye, said: “We have long called for greater education in cyber security – as this is the most effective way to protect the UK from the escalating threat, which is reaching crisis point. The greatest challenge – outside of identifying and stopping advanced attacks – is having trained experts on hand to assist.  Today, such expertise is both costly and rare, which has made these resources a luxury for the vast majority of organisations.

“As a result, a government-backed investment in equipping the next generation with the skills and intelligence needed to detect, prevent and analyse these complex malware events, is very welcome news.”

Sign up to our newsletters