The BCS Academy Board for Computing has initiated a review of degree accreditation. Part of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the Academy Board is responsible for degree accreditation and seeks to ensure that graduates have the skills needed to drive economic recovery and growth across the UK by defining a set of criteria and expectations for degree programmes.
Building on the findings of UK Government’s 2016 Shadbolt review , the current review assesses whether computer science degree programmes in the UK need to address a refreshed set of accreditation criteria. As a result of recent work in this area , there has been a clear mandate from employers and from across the UK’s higher education sector to strengthen the current accreditation framework so that it is more focused on outcomes and links more closely with employability .
The first step in the review of accreditation was to establish a steering group of practitioners, industrialists, academics and representatives from other UK engineering/technology professional bodies to oversee the process of review and generate a set of recommendations. As a starting point, once a term of reference was agreed, a series of initial tasks weas agreed, which included:
- a review of progress in reforming academic accreditation of computing-related degree courses since the Shadbolt report was published in 2016;
- an evaluation of what currently works well and is valued by the various stakeholders and to establish if and what fundamental changes are required; and
- gathering recommendations to reform accreditation to fulfil the purpose of validating that graduates have gained sufficient academic knowledge, understanding and competencies for a successful professional career.
The planned outcome is that an agreed set of processes and criteria will be implemented by September 2021, which coincides with the implementation of the Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) from the Engineering Council .
At this stage in the review, data has been gathered from various stakeholders, using focus groups and semi-structured interviews with a range of participants including: i) industry and employers; ii) academia (“pro” accreditation and “anti” accreditation as well as HEIs new to accreditation and those who have had accredited programmes for a number of years); iii) students, prospective students, parents and the general public; and iv) other professional bodies and statutory/regulatory bodies (e.g. the UK’s Engineering Council and Science Council as well as professional bodies from other disciplines).
The next step is to disseminate a questionnaire to provide broader sector-level data and to undertake further focus groups and semi-structured interviews to provide a larger data set (both quantitative and qualitative), for analysis and evaluation.
Once all the data has been collected, it will be analysed and evaluated, and a series of recommendations generated before final debate, discussion and approval enabling a refined accreditation regime to be launched in September 2021.
 Nigel Shadbolt. 2016. Computer science degree accreditation: Shadbolt review. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/computer-science-degreeaccreditation-and-graduate-employability-shadbolt-review.
 Tom Crick, James H. Davenport, Paul Hanna, Alastair Irons, and Tom Prickett. 2020. Computer Science Degree Accreditation in the UK: A Post-Shadbolt Review Update. In Proc. Computing Education Practice (CEP’20). Article 6. https://doi.org/ 10.1145/3372356.3372362
 Tom Crick, James H. Davenport, Paul Hanna, Alastair Irons, Sally Pearce, and Tom Prickett. 2020. Repositioning BCS Degree Accreditation. ITNOW 62, 1 (2020), 50–51. https://doi.org/10.1093/itnow/bwaa023
 Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes Engineering Council (engc.org.uk)