Cardiff University’s National Software Academy will expand into new offices in Newport in preparation for the 2018/19 academic year.
The move will help to accommodate the ever-growing cohort of students choosing to study for a degree at the Academy, which offers a unique and innovative programme that is heavily focussed on engagement with industry.
The Academy, which is currently based at The Platform building in Newport will take up residence in Newport City Council’s Information Station in the city’s old railway station building.
The new facilities will also enable the Academy to expand its teaching facilities and help to achieve one of its key goals, which is to provide students with a study space that mimics a workplace environment and integrates industry working practices.
The Academy was established in partnership with Welsh Government and industry leaders, including the Newport-based Alacrity Foundation, and its ethos is centred on giving students “real life” projects to work on throughout their studies and providing opportunities to engage with experienced software engineers from industry.
Professor Rudolf Allemann, Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, said:
“The expansion of the National Software Academy is a clear sign of success. I’m delighted that the University has been able to maintain a presence in Newport and therefore continue to forge a strong relationship between our two great cities.
“The move will allow the Academy to build on the foundations that is has already laid and continue to attract the best businesses from across Wales, the UK and the rest of the world.”
The Academy has made significant strides in the past two years, growing its student numbers, hosting ministerial visits and family open days, and picking up a number of technology awards. In June 2017 the Academy picked up the ‘Trailblazer of the Year’ award in the ESTnet Wales Technology Awards.
The current three-year degree programme (BSc Applied Software Engineering) is run by Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science & Informatics and is helping to address the current unmet demand for skilled software engineers in Wales. The Academy is also aiming to introduce a new Master’s programme with effect from September 2018.
Market research undertaken by Welsh Government predicts that industries in Wales demand around 3,000 IT professionals each year. The supply of skilled graduates from universities is low, which means the demand is currently not being met.
Furthermore, software engineering graduates are perceived by industry to be lacking in a number of essential skills to make them ready for the workplace once they leave university.
Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, said:
“Wales is already the fastest growing digital economy outside London, with a Tech Sector that employs some 40,000 people and is worth over £8 billion in turnover to the Welsh economy.
“Ensuring Wales continues to nurture and develop Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills is vital if we are to remain competitive and continue to grow in this fast paced sector. I am delighted we have been able to support the expansion of this academy, which is fully aligned to our vision of attracting and building capability in this area.”
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said:
“We are delighted at the decision of the National Software Academy to remain and grow in Newport. Since its launch in 2015, the Academy has formed a key part of the council’s vision initiative to regenerate Newport as a digital city.
“One of the many strengths of the NSA is its close links with industry which will help to attract high quality businesses to Newport and the region, therefore bringing wider economic benefits.
“We are pleased that we are able to share the landmark building that houses the Information Station with the Academy. It comes at a time when we are aiming to make sure we are making the best use of council buildings.
“Although some teams will be moving, I want to reassure residents that the Information Station will remain a ‘one stop shop’ for those wanting to access services in the immediate future.”
Professor Simon Gibson, Chair of the Alacrity Foundation, said:
“The National Software Academy is a vital addition to Wales. It is producing essential ‘work ready’ graduates to enhance all sectors of the economy.
“Since inception, the Academy has gone from strength to strength and its pioneering applied teaching is fast becoming the benchmark for software engineering courses in UK universities. Graduates from the National Software Academy are well respected by employers and entrepreneurship programmes such as the Alacrity Foundation in Newport.”