New cyber-academy to open at Bletchley Park

News by Roi Perez

UK's first National College of Cyber-Security will open on the site of Bletchley Park by 2018 as part of wide-ranging plans to nurture the country's brightest cyber-security talent.

Plans have been revealed to regenerate the WWII code-breaking site, Bletchley Park, so it can house a set of new cyber-security learning and innovation projects.

The plans were announced today by Qufaro – a new not-for-profit body created by leading experts working in cyber security.

At the heart of Qufaro's strategy is the creation of the UK's first National College of Cyber-Security. Based at the historic Bletchley Park site, students will be able to study in the very place where code-breakers famously cracked Nazi codes to aid WWII British war efforts.

Operational by 2018, the College will be a free-to-attend boarding school that will teach cyber-security skills to the UK's most gifted 16-19-year-olds, challenging and developing them into the top cyber-security professionals of tomorrow.

As part of its remit, the College will select only the most talented and skilled students to attend. It will draw its syllabus from the individuals working at the forefront of the cyber-security industry in the UK, and integrate this with modules in complementary subjects such as maths, computer science, and physics.

G-Block, one of the largest buildings on the Bletchley Park site, will house the National College. A £5 million restoration project is already underway to sympathetically convert it into a pioneering security technology centre boasting some of the most advanced cyber-facilities in the world.

By doing so, Qufaro hopes to create a centrepiece of national cyber-learning and a technical showcase in an iconic setting where organisations from across the country will be able to host events; train staff; and engage the wider public in the cyber-agenda.

Qufaro says its mission is to help deliver the cyber-workforce necessary to protect British citizens and organisations against the increasing threat of cyber-attack.

The UK already boasts many successful programmes designed to identify and nurture upcoming cyber-talent but Qufaro says they are often disconnected. The gaps make it hard for rising stars to chart an unbroken learning pathway from early-stage interest to qualification, employment and professional development.

The founders of Qufaro say the College is designed to plug these gaps and act as a gateway both to existing options and new education and innovation opportunities, providing budding cyber-defenders with a single point of access.

Qufaro will also nurture new British cyber-businesses with the launch of a £50 million cyber-innovation investment fund next year.

The fund will support entrepreneurs and seek to stimulate the growth of innovative new information security businesses, growing technological excellence, sovereign capabilities and the contribution the cyber-security industry makes to our national GDP.

Alastair MacWilson, Chair of Qufaro and the Institute of Information Security Professionals said:  “Qufaro will make it easier for budding professionals to grow their cyber-security skills at every stage of their journey, and contribute more to the sector.”

Lord Reid, former Home Secretary and Chair of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at UCL said: “The launch of Qufaro's programme today, and its plans for the first National College of Cyber Security, shows that the UK is continuing to take significant steps to address this challenge. Qufaro's programme is bold and relevant. And by housing this new national gateway for cyber-education and innovation at the home of British codebreaking and cryptography, I believe it will be able to harness the legacy of this historic location to inspire the next generation”

Margaret Sale, Qufaro non-executive director and founding member of both the Bletchley Park Trust and The National Museum of Computing commented: “Having been involved with the Bletchley Park site for more than 25 years I believe that Qufaro represents a truly unique opportunity to reactivate this environment as a major active contributor to our national security. Through initiatives such as the National College and the Cyber Investment Fund we can effectively combine the principles of heritage, education and innovation for which everything on this site stands.”

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