IT-business degree spawns first graduates

Eight students have graduated with an industry-supported degree designed to provide the skills required of IT managers and leaders

The first students to take a university degree in Information Technology Management for Business have completed their studies, with a high proportion of the graduates achieving first-class honours.

The Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) BSc degree, which was designed by universities and employers in the IT industry with the support of IT-sector skills body e-skills UK, focuses on areas such as project management and how to go about designing, developing and implementing technology solutions for business — skills that are vital for future IT managers and leaders.

Several IT employers, including British Airways, BT, Ford, Fujitsu, IBM and Unilever, actively support the degree by providing input such as lectures, short courses or work placements, or attending networking events with students.

Five students at Northumbria University, one of 13 universities around the UK to offer the ITMB degree, have now graduated, including Christine McKibbin and Justine Broom, who both gained first-class honours, along with two students who gained 2:1 classifications and one who gained a 2:2.

There are also two ITMB graduates from Birmingham City University and one from Greenwich University, all of whom received first-class honours. Three of the total of eight graduates are women.

McKibbin has secured a place on British Airways' IT graduate programme in Newcastle, to start this September; while Broom will take up a post with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, working within the procurement department.

Broom said in a statement: "The ITMB [degree] has been hard work but it has certainly paid off. I wanted to study both IT and business, as I had taken both at A-level and I worked with my teacher from high school to identify a suitable course. We both thought the ITMB [degree] looked ideal, and both the course and the work-experience element of the degree have been fantastic."

Northumbria specifically targets high achievers for its ITMB course, requiring a higher level of entry than standard computing and information-systems courses. Andrew Turnbull, programme leader for the course at the university, said ITMB graduates are able to fill a crucial gap in the market.

"Employers are increasingly seeking business professionals who have a thorough knowledge of information systems and a sound grasp of technology but who also understand the business environment and can hit the ground running," he said in a statement.

Karen Price, chief executive of e-skills UK, said the ITMB degree has the active support of some 50 "prestigious" employers in the sector. "This gives students unprecedented access to a wide range of industry insights and contact, from lectures to work experience, from mentors to competitions, as well as cross-university events that bring together peers from across the country," she said in a statement.

Price said: "We are delighted to see the very first cohort of students graduate, and particularly delighted that two of the students from Northumbria have graduated with first-class honours degrees and great jobs."