Funding will support places for 400 students, with focus on attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds
London, DATE 03.10.2023 — The Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) today announced it has successfully secured funding from Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to support students for the 2023-24 CyberEPQ – the UK’s first and only Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in cyber security. Places for the academic year are now open here.
The funding is part of the Government’s £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy designed to protect and promote the UK online, and develop cyber skills. It follows a successful pilot with the 2022-23 cohort, which targeted sixth form students across 10 combined mayoral authorities in England. All the students involved achieved grades that qualified them for CIISec membership, with 68% achieving A* to B grades.
This year, CIISec plans to enrol at least 400 students, three times the number in 2022-23, and to keep increasing the number year on year. Both CIISec and the UK Government are dedicated to attracting a more diverse pool of talent into the cyber security industry – through methods such as enrolling students from state schools in areas of social deprivation. The funding from DSIT, alongside assistance from CIISec’s corporate partners, will be a crucial element in this, with CIISec already increasing the number of state schools involved in the CyberEPQ by 56% in 2022-23. This sits alongside Government initiatives such as the Cyber Explorers and the Upskill in Cyber programme.
Amanda Finch, CEO of CIISec, commented: “We’re excited to embark on this next phase of the CyberEPQ program, which promises to play a pivotal role in attracting and nurturing diverse talent in the cyber security industry. The continued support from DSIT and the dedication of our partners and members will be instrumental in achieving these goals.”
Andy Pape, Head of Computer Science at Thomas Tallis School, commented: “In our first year of running the CyberEPQ, we have already seen how beneficial the course has been to our students. Students chose a wide variety of essay topics that truly engaged their inquisitiveness. Some of their presentations felt like we were sat in training sessions with cyber security experts. Many are now planning a future in cyber security. I can’t wait to see how our next cohort develop over the course.”
To maintain strong relationships with schools, encourage active participation, and ensure high success rates, CIISec has recruited a dedicated School Liaison Coordinator to manage and support both teachers and students throughout the whole program. CIISec has also conducted a comprehensive review of its program, with plans underway to upgrade the curriculum to reflect advancements in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing and Blockchain.
Underpinned by CIISec’s own skills framework, the CyperEPQ qualification offers training in topics across the cyber security spectrum, from the history of computing and cryptography to digital forensics and the human factor in cyber security. Students will also gain access to CIISec’s development programme, designed to support individuals at all stages of their careers, from apprenticeships to executive positions. Ultimately, they can form part of the growing UK cyber industry which is currently worth £10.5 billion and employs 58,000 people.
Cyber Minister Viscount Camrose said: “We’re committed to breaking down barriers and helping young people pursue exciting careers in the UK’s cyber industry. The sector is growing at pace, and so is the demand for skills – which is why we’re investing in a new and diverse generation of cyber security experts, and we’re pleased to be supporting CIISec to engage even more talented students this year.”