UNSW Canberra debates a rethink of cyber security education


Australians can learn from the United States and China regarding radical new measures for cyber security education, according to the Acting Director of the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at University of New South Wales Canberra, Professor Greg Austin (pictured).

Professor Austin said the global education scene has moved fast: “China is building a national cyber security college which will train 10,000 students a year in short course to address its cyber skills deficit of 700,000 people.”

“At the same time, China has seen a marked decline in PhD completions on cyber security in the past five years, as clever people turn away from classic university studies in the field in favour of early entry into the private sector.”

UNSW Canberra recently held the first of three annual conferences focusing on cyber security education.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Realigning Cyber Security Education attracted experts from around the world, including Director of the United States Army Cyber Institute, Colonel Andrew Hall, Prof Andrew Martin, Director of the Oxford University Doctoral Training Centre,and author Jane Frankland from the United Kingdom.

The conference hosted discussions on the challenges faced in cyber security education, including rapidly changing technologies, a worldwide shortage of scholars, and low technology levels in student facilities.

Professor Austin said UNSW Canberra is a world leader in promoting formal education in cyber warfare, with the first Australian degree program on that subject - but he called for national-level strategies for a sovereign cyber security knowledge economy.

Professor Austin said UNSW Canberra has one of the best suites of cyber security degrees in the country: “Two of our courses exist nowhere else in Australia, including cyber war and peace studies – a course which has few peers anywhere in the world, but there is still no single researcher in Australia who specifically researches cyber security education full time. This has to change.”

UNSW Canberra is also well ahead of the national average for new enrolments in cyber security courses at tertiary level, achieving 100 per cent growth from 2015 to 2016. The national average in the same period was 55 per cent.