Wales-first for USW as it strikes gold for cyber security excellence

THE University of South Wales (USW) has become the only university in Wales to be named as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ.

USW is one of eight UK universities recognised by the new government programme, which celebrates cyber security excellence. The recognition shows USW’s commitment to cyber security education in the new NCSC initiative.

The eight institutions have been recognised as the country’s first Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACEs-CSE) for delivering first-rate cyber security education on campus and promoting cyber skills in their communities.

Examples of activities undertaken by the institutions ranged from offering short ‘Cyber 101’ courses for new students to designing a course to help military leavers learn valuable cyber skills. 

The ACE-CSE programme is led by the NCSC – a part of GCHQ – and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said: “I am delighted we can now recognise the first tranche of universities as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Education, complementing our existing programmes which recognise high-quality cyber security research and degree courses.

“It is a testament to the continual efforts of academics, support staff, and senior management, that cyber security remains high on their agenda.

“We very much look forward to working with them over the coming years and strongly encourage other universities to work towards achieving similar recognition in the future.”

Seven universities received Gold awards in this first round of applications for demonstrating impressive approaches to promoting cyber security excellence, with USW being the only in Wales.

Each of the successful Gold centres demonstrated they offer at least one NCSC-certified degree, deliver top cyber security training to staff and students from other specialisms within the university, work to improve the institution’s cyber resilience, and carry out local outreach activities.

“We are extremely proud to receive this recognition at Gold standard from the NCSC which further underpins our commitment to developing the cyber security workforce of the future,” said Professor Paul Harrison, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Innovation & Engagement) at USW.

“The Academic Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Education recognition will enable us to continue to build upon our successes and provide the platform for working more closely with the NCSC in this area of critical national importance.   

“We would like to thank all our staff and students who have made this possible and the team at the NCSC for their invaluable support and guidance during the application process.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “The UK has some of the brightest minds in the world working in tech and it’s right we celebrate universities where so many people develop relevant and cutting-edge skills.

“We continue to work closely with academia to nurture the next generation of cyber security talent and I urge interested education institutions to apply for this recognition.”

Offering a NCSC-certified degree is necessary for receiving ACE-CSE recognition, as it demonstrates that an institution is already providing a high standard of education to students enrolled in cyber security disciplines.

However, successful ACE-CSE institutions go beyond this, offering cyber security education opportunities across the whole campus and to those in their wider community.

In the first tranche of award winners this included giving cyber security classes to those studying subjects such as politics, law, and psychology, and setting up work experience placements for local schoolchildren.