National Cyber Security Academy to tackle shortage of experts


Newport City Campus will be home to the National Cyber Security Academy. 

The University of South Wales (USW) and Welsh Government have joined forces to launch an innovative project to help address a shortage of cyber security skills and develop the next generation of cyber security experts

The pilot National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA), the first of its kind in Wales and a major UK initiative, is being set up at USW’s Newport City Campus, and will take its first students in October.

Also involving Welsh digital innovation company Innovation Point and major industry players – including Airbus, General Dynamics UK, Alert Logic, Information Assurance, QinetiQ, Silcox Information Security, Westgate Cyber, Wolfberry and the South Wales Cyber Security Cluster – the NCSA will work to close an expected skills gap in the cyber security sector. By 2019 it is forecast that an additional 4.5 million personnel will be needed worldwide.

The NCSA builds on plans for a £60m Newport Knowledge Quarter, which would see USW work in partnership with Coleg Gwent to build a new learning campus in the city’s riverbank area.

With funding support from the Welsh Government, the £500,000 pilot initiative involves a cohort of current USW Computer Forensics and Computer Security undergraduates. They will work on real-world projects set by NCSA partners, while also ‘flight testing’ the course to ensure it meets the latest cyber security challenges. It will develop as industry partners identify new challenges in the cyber security environment. If the pilot is successful, the University will quickly build up the student numbers through the delivery of a full-time dedicated degree programme in Applied Cyber Security. 

Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM said:

“Cyber crime continues to pose a growing global security threat and there is a real demand for highly skilled cyber security experts to tackle this issue. South Wales is already a renowned centre for cyber security expertise and this initiative is designed to deliver the highly specialist skills required by businesses working in the sector.”

Airbus Defence and Space’s Andy Love, of Strategic Business Development, said: “There is an emerging eco system around cyber technology that is based in South Wales and Airbus is proud to be part of it. Our involvement with the course and the curriculum is an exciting opportunity for business and academia to influence the next generation of cyber security specialists.”

Professor Julie Lydon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Wales, said:

“Cyber security - along with terrorism, international military crises, and major accidents and natural disasters - is seen by the UK Government as one of the four major national security threats facing the country.

“Meanwhile - according to research by the Ponemon Institute - 39 major companies in the UK faced costs of between £630,000 and £16m in fighting cyber crime last year.

“Therefore, both government and business understand there is a growing need for graduates with hands-on skills that can fight cyber threats, and that there is a need to work together to address this challenge.

“That’s the demand that the NCSA will address. Putting students and industry together to come up with solutions to online problems.

“For industry, it offers direct access to a pool of graduates who have been trained to the highest standards and who have a clear understanding of cyber threats, while, for the students, it will maximise the opportunities for them to get a job when they leave USW.”

See also: BSc (Hons) Applied Cyber Security degree

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