Rugbee
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Happened upon this university simply because a friend said they just graduated from there. Checking their entry requirements I noticed that quite a few courses including Computer science are asking for 2 A'levels and 3 GCSEs :confused:. Considering the benchmark of good GCSE attainment is 5C's including English and Maths, how is Anglia Ruskin's admitting student with those grades? Their computer science is also fully accredited. What am i missing?
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Rugbee)
Happened upon this university simply because a friend said they just graduated from there. Checking their entry requirements I noticed that quite a few courses including Computer science are asking for 2 A'levels and 3 GCSEs :confused:. Considering the benchmark of good GCSE attainment is 5C's including English and Maths, how is Anglia Ruskin's admitting student with those grades? Their computer science is also fully accredited. What am i missing?
I doubt you're missing anything. They're among the many universities whose focus on computer science is more vocational and technical, rather than being particlarly academic or mathematical.

In other words, it's unlikely that the level of Maths is going to go into a lot of depth, and the amount of Computer Science theory is likely to be fairly limited as well. Instead it'll focus on the kinds of skills which employers look for when hiring people into entry-level IT jobs - for example, databases and data representation, programming, object-oriented design, software development, testing, UI/UX, networking, project management, web development, etc.

All of these are the kinds of skills which really don't need any kind of strong academic or mathematical background in order to have a successful career. Employers don't particularly look at academic credentials when hiring people into these jobs, they look for people who have strong analytical, technical and problem solving skills. They also look for communication skills, teamworking, enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and the ability to pick up a task and work on it independently; again nothing there which particularly favours anyone with a strong academic/mathematical background.

Of course, you don't even need to go to university to learn any of those skills - you can teach them all yourself (which is much easier to do these days with so many great resources available online), or you can get into an IT apprenticeship scheme and learn all the same things, and plenty of people start out teaching themselves or picking up apprenticeships and move into very successful IT careers later on without any kind of STEM-related academic background.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by ltsmith)
Then isn't it misleading to call the course "Computer Science"?
Probably yes, but a lot of universities do it. A-Level computer science probably shouldn't be called Computer Science either (in fact, it used to be called Computing when I was in college, I don't know why they renamed it)
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Rugbee
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(Original post by winterscoming)
I doubt you're missing anything. They're among the many universities whose focus on computer science is more vocational and technical, rather than being particlarly academic or mathematical.

In other words, it's unlikely that the level of Maths is going to go into a lot of depth, and the amount of Computer Science theory is likely to be fairly limited as well. Instead it'll focus on the kinds of skills which employers look for when hiring people into entry-level IT jobs - for example, databases and data representation, programming, object-oriented design, software development, testing, UI/UX, networking, project management, web development, etc.

All of these are the kinds of skills which really don't need any kind of strong academic or mathematical background in order to have a successful career. Employers don't particularly look at academic credentials when hiring people into these jobs, they look for people who have strong analytical, technical and problem solving skills. They also look for communication skills, teamworking, enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and the ability to pick up a task and work on it independently; again nothing there which particularly favours anyone with a strong academic/mathematical background.

Of course, you don't even need to go to university to learn any of those skills - you can teach them all yourself (which is much easier to do these days with so many great resources available online), or you can get into an IT apprenticeship scheme and learn all the same things, and plenty of people start out teaching themselves or picking up apprenticeships and move into very successful IT careers later on without any kind of STEM-related academic background.
Thank you for your reply. To be honest after reading your reply, the only question in my mind is, are the other universities missing a trick then? because it seems Anglia Ruskin is delivering what employers want? i'm not sure they care about how much mathematical knowledge and theory the applicant has, they want somone who can roll up their sleeves and get to work sharpish, no?
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Killerpenguin15
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(Original post by Rugbee)
Thank you for your reply. To be honest after reading your reply, the only question in my mind is, are the other universities missing a trick then? because it seems Anglia Ruskin is delivering what employers want? i'm not sure they care about how much mathematical knowledge and theory the applicant has, they want somone who can roll up their sleeves and get to work sharpish, no?
A career in tech is a very fast-paced environment: Technologies used today will be obsolete in a few years time. A good Computer Science course needs to teach some theory in order to equip CompSci graduates with the skills to continue learning throughout their entire careers so they can keep up with industry practices.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Rugbee)
Thank you for your reply. To be honest after reading your reply, the only question in my mind is, are the other universities missing a trick then? because it seems Anglia Ruskin is delivering what employers want? i'm not sure they care about how much mathematical knowledge and theory the applicant has, they want somone who can roll up their sleeves and get to work sharpish, no?
Most universities are doing this really - although the universities who can justify asking for higher entry requirements will always do so in order to attract the 'best' students; even if their courses aren't particularly academic or mathematical, the higher-ranked universities are probably going to be have a lot more challenging content and higher expectations of students.

It's only the 'top' universities which really focus that so heavily on maths and theory - those are the kinds of institutions which are all about academic excellence and research rather than meeting the demands of employers, so people on those degrees can usually get into other opportunities which really do need that background.

Maths and theory is really useful in R&D into cutting-edge technologies like AI and Machine learning, so there's a niche demand for that kind of thing at a lot of top tech companies, and the skills around logical reasoning and mathematics are applicable to all kinds of non-IT STEM careers. Also there's a general recognition that if someone is smart enough to be able to cope with a heavily mathematical degree at Oxbridge, then they're probably to be able to figure out all the technical stuff too.

But yes, you'd probably find that 95% of the jobs you'll see on IT recruitment boards have no particular preference for academics and mathematicians because those jobs are equally doable by someone who maybe spent a couple of years learning on-the-job' in an apprenticeship or may have been self-taught from another background.

There's probably over 100 universities in the country who offer Computing/CompSci courses, and realistically the majority of those have courses which are are driven by the demands of employers (as well as demand from students to be taught things which are relevant to their employment prospects).

It's probably fair to say that Anglia Ruskin probably doesn't have the most challenging CompSci course, and may not push students as hard as some of the universities which have much higher entry requirements - the main problem/disadvantage with getting into a low-ranked university is usually that there's more of a need for students to really push themselves to learn and self-study if they want to get the most out of those 3 years in terms of really understanding the material and learning the skills. but plenty of people come out of low-ranked universities and have no problem getting into a technical IT career; it depends far more on the individual person and their own skills/success than the university.

Also, most students who end up on vocational courses often spend 12-months on an internship/placement before the final year, which is a huge boost to employment prospects. In some cases, there are also opportunities to pick up professional certification (Cisco CCNA is a good example - there are around 30-40 universities who are partnered with the Cisco academy scheme - those are nearly all universities with vocational CompSci courses)
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Killerpenguin15)
A career in tech is a very fast-paced environment: Technologies used today will be obsolete in a few years time. A good Computer Science course needs to teach some theory in order to equip CompSci graduates with the skills to continue learning throughout their entire careers so they can keep up with industry practices.
Yet there's absolutely no need for any kind of academic or mathematical background in order to be able to do this -- actually the best way to get good at learning new technologies is simply to get a job doing that kind of work, in which case the task of learning new things will become a daily routine (assuming they're not stagnating in their job, in which case it's time to find a new job).

For example, most people who spend 1-2 years working (professionally) in a programming language like Java will very quickly pick up all of the important concepts around object-oriented design and software design principles - so it becomes easy to move from Java to any other OO language even if they've never studied it at college/university. Actually, doing it professionally usually goes further than university since there'll generally be a lot of senior, experienced people providing code review and design review feedback on every piece of work, so learning those things becomes part of the steady learning curve which takes someone from being a junior engineer up to a mid-senior level over a period of several years.

You'll often find a lot of extremely talented developers and engineers who have entered profession from a non-STEM background, and their experience will have led them to learn all of the theory which underpins the tools they're using. For example, a lot of businesses are currently training their employees to learn all about cloud technologies; there's not really anything that a university could teach anyone which would help in this, but people who have a solid background working with technology will instantly recognise many of the concepts, just in a different context.
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Killerpenguin15
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(Original post by winterscoming)
Yet there's absolutely no need for any kind of academic or mathematical background in order to be able to do this -- actually the best way to get good at learning new technologies is simply to get a job doing that kind of work, in which case the task of learning new things will become a daily routine (assuming they're not stagnating in their job, in which case it's time to find a new job).

For example, most people who spend 2-3 years working in a programming language like Java will very quickly pick up all of the important concepts around object-oriented design and software design principles - so it becomes easy to move from Java to any other OO language even if they've never studied it at college/university.

You'll often find a lot of extremely talented developers and engineers who have entered profession from a non-STEM background, and their experience will have led them to learn all of the theory which underpins the tools they're using. For example, a lot of businesses are currently training their employees to learn all about cloud technologies; there's not really anything that a university could teach anyone which would help in this, but people who have a solid background working with technology will instantly recognise many of the concepts, just in a different context.
ehh, where I work there are placement students working on actual machine learning using mathematics and CompSci theory. Which is a bit different from learning cloud technologies as you can imagine. From an employer's perspective - hiring a university student would make sense as they've already been exposed to the high level content that only a university can provide. Giving businesses more confidence to hire, given a greater chance that the employee will not create significant overheads in needing to train them up. But you're right, experience can very quickly outweigh academics. Provided that the employee has the right attitude in committing themselves to ongoing learning and development. If it was easy as you mention, then lots more people would be software developers/engineers and lots more would stick at it instead of moving into management etc.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Killerpenguin15)
ehh, where I work there are placement students working on actual machine learning using mathematics and CompSci theory. Which is a bit different from learning cloud technologies as you can imagine. From an employer's perspective - hiring a university student would make sense as they've already been exposed to the high level content that only a university can provide. Giving businesses more confidence to hire, given a greater chance that the employee will not create significant overheads in needing to train them up. But you're right, experience can very quickly outweigh academics provided the employee has the right attitude in committing themselves to ongoing learning and development. If it was easy as you mention, then lots more people would be software developers.
I already pointed out in my previous post that the academic and mathematical background would be useful for areas like AI and machine learning, but otherwise I actually said that the best way to get good at learning new technologies is just by doing the job.

Also, I'm not sure where you think I mentioned it was easy, unless you're referring to the fact that after learning one high-level OO programming language like Java then it becomes really easy to learn another because all the concepts are transferrable. The same generally seems true with most toolchains - when one technology falls out of favour and becomes obsolete, it'll be because the people who previously used that tool have found something which is 'better', but all the concepts learned by using that tool will still apply.

Of course having a strong degree in a STEM subject from a top university is going to help employers gain confidence in their ability - that's pretty much what I already said earlier, but that's not really the point I'm making - the point is that employers will generally be quite happy (for any non-academic and non-mathematical IT position) to hire people without any kind of academic computer science or mathematical background. What you'll generally find if you look at a website like CWJobs is that the kinds of jobs which really do take advantage of the kind of education you'd get from a Maths/Theory-based compsci degree is a really thin slice of the entire IT recruitment market.
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Rugbee
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This is all really very interesting. Thank you all so much for taking the time to gve such detailed and varied arguments. Not sure what i think now, but a lot to think about.
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Rugbee
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So...would you say that a graduate from the lower ranked non mathematical unis are more desirable to employers? does that mean graduates from top Unis like the RGs are not really job ready?
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Killerpenguin15
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(Original post by winterscoming)
I already pointed out in my previous post that the academic and mathematical background would be useful for areas like AI and machine learning, but otherwise I actually said that the best way to get good at learning new technologies is just by doing the job.

Also, I'm not sure where you think I mentioned it was easy, unless you're referring to the fact that after learning one high-level OO programming language like Java then it becomes really easy to learn another because all the concepts are transferrable. The same generally seems true with most toolchains - when one technology falls out of favour and becomes obsolete, it'll be because the people who previously used that tool have found something which is 'better', but all the concepts learned by using that tool will still apply.

Of course having a strong degree in a STEM subject from a top university is going to help employers gain confidence in their ability - that's pretty much what I already said earlier, but that's not really the point I'm making - the point is that employers will generally be quite happy (for any non-academic and non-mathematical IT position) to hire people without any kind of academic computer science or mathematical background. What you'll generally find if you look at a website like CWJobs is that the kinds of jobs which really do take advantage of the kind of education you'd get from a Maths/Theory-based compsci degree is a really thin slice of the entire IT recruitment market.
Didn’t see those comments you made above mine. Sorry! Maybe next time you should be a bit less condescending or keep your comments straight to the point maybe?

Plenty of people at my workplace have STEM degrees, not even from top universities, but that’s besides the point. Graduates must have some level of skill to get employed in tech. Technology can go out of fashion when a new one can come to take its place, again if it’s as easy as you *implied*, then lots more people would be software developers. Saying something =/= interpretation.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Killerpenguin15)
Didn’t see those comments you made above mine. Sorry! Maybe next time you should be a bit less condescending or keep your comments straight to the point maybe?
Not sure where you read condescension, that seems to be more your tone than mine.

(Original post by Killerpenguin15)
Plenty of people at my workplace have STEM degrees, not even from top universities, but that’s besides the point. Graduates must have some level of skill to get employed in tech. Technology can go out of fashion when a new one can come to take its place, again if it’s as easy as you *implied*, then lots more people would be software developers. Saying something =/= interpretation.
Then I'm sorry that you are mis-interpreting what I'm saying because I chose my words to mean what I said rather than to 'imply' anything else.

The point (if you will actually read what I'm saying instead of trying to re-interpret it) is simply about the fact that having a degree background or not makes no difference to someone who has more than a few years of solid experience working in IT when it comes to being able to keep up with new technologies.

An academic or mathematical background may have benefits in some areas which lend themselves to mathematics or research but learning new technologies is essentially about sitting down and trying to figure out how something works - usually just by following tutorials, trying examples, reading documentation, and figuring out how it fits a particular problem. It isn't something mathematical.like trying to write an algorithm or build a statistical model, it's pretty much the same kind of standard problem solving that most people working IT do every single day throughout their career.
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Rugbee
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Pls can you guys both stop aruguing. You've both given some really good points. For what its worth, I don't think anyone was being condescending, i guess its one of those things where typed post just doesnt convey properly what the poster intended. All of you have been really polite and given lots of detailed thought and valid points for having on degree or another.
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Killerpenguin15
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(Original post by winterscoming)
Not sure where you read condescension, that seems to be more your tone than mine.
The point (if you will actually read what I'm saying instead of trying to re-interpret it) was that that you come across as condescending. Please don't take it out of context?


(Original post by winterscoming)
Then I'm sorry that you are mis-interpreting what I'm saying because I chose my words to mean what I said rather than to 'imply' anything else.

The point (if you will actually read what I'm saying instead of trying to re-interpret it) is simply about the fact that having a degree background or not makes no difference to someone who has more than a few years of solid experience working in IT when it comes to being able to keep up with new technologies. An academic or mathematical background may have benefits in some areas but learning new technologies is not one of those areas.

An academic or mathematical background may have benefits in some areas which lend themselves to mathematics or research but learning new technologies is essentially about sitting down and trying to figure out how something works - usually just by following tutorials, trying examples, reading documentation, and figuring out how it fits a particular problem. It isn't something mathematical.like trying to write an algorithm or build a statistical model, it's pretty much the same kind of standard problem solving that most people working IT do every single day throughout their career.
Then we're in some kind of agreement! I'd say also, that a degree doesn't matter too much a few years after uni when you have some solid experience in tech.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Killerpenguin15)
The point (if you will actually read what I'm saying instead of trying to re-interpret it) was that that you come across as condescending. Please don't take it out of context?
If you choose to read something as being condescending then that's what you'll see I suppose, there's nothing condescending about my posts above, I'm sorry that you chose to read it that way but I can't decide how you read my posts
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Killerpenguin15
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(Original post by winterscoming)
QED
I'd have said the same with you given the changes I've made to my comment above.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Killerpenguin15)
I'd have said the same with you given the changes I've made to my comment above.
OK I see you've edited that out. All I can say is that nothing condescending was meant at any point and I apologise if it did come across that way. Let's just leave it at that.
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Rugbee
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awwwh!:hugs:
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Rugbee)
So...would you say that a graduate from the lower ranked non mathematical unis are more desirable to employers? does that mean graduates from top Unis like the RGs are not really job ready?
It depends really on the kinds of jobs they're applying to. Otherwise it's difficult to compare a theoretical course with a vocational course because they focus on such different things. The skills you'd get from a CS degree at a top university have a much wider application than just IT (financial modelling for example).

On the other hand, the mathematical background doesn't necessarily prepare someone for some of the typical every-day technical tasks that a lot of businesses want their IT teams and developers to solve. (In fairness, vocational degrees often don't either - there are some things which you only get from experience).

A good example I saw recently was a 'simple' update which appeared to be a quick modification inside a single file; someone had estimated 30 minutes to get the job finished, but they hadn't considered all the work needed to make sure that it didn't risk breaking a customer's working, live system with thousands of users connected at any one time and the time/effort for actually moving the change from an engineer's laptop into the real system either. The task really ended up taking more than 3 days; firstly to figure out exactly where the change needed to sit in order to work properly, then deploying a test system with an accurate configuration, running the right regression tests to ensure the change didn't break anything or have side-effects, asking for user feedback/sign-off, backing up all the existing live data and configuration in case it needed to be reverted, applying a patch, automating the transition to the updated system so that it can be quickly reverted if something goes wrong, monitoring logs for any errors, and being quick to fix any problems which might appear.

That probably sounds like a lot of 'boring' stuff (and sometimes the most important tasks can be a bit boring) - but at the same time, it's also difficult to get it right due to all the things which could go wrong and how expensive/damaging it would be to the business or client if they did go wrong, so people who know how to get it right are very valuable.
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