Degrees of difference

With the end of the year in sight, many IT professionals take stock of their career prospects and consider the options available to bag that promotion or go for that dream job.

And with application periods now open for postgraduate studies, universities around Australia are keen to promote their postgraduate IT offerings and attract new students.

So what's new on the IT study smorgasbord for 2006?

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) associate dean for the faculty of information technology David Wilson promises his institution has several new offerings in the IT field, but says there are no dramatic changes in trends for IT postgraduate study.

"There are no major shifts in technology being predicted at the moment, just more mobile, more networked and more focus on value to the business," Wilson said.

"But IT skills highest in demand are internetworking, ERP, technology and business combinations and IT management."

In the past, UTS offered postgraduate courses under several categories, including a professional computer program, an advanced computer program, an information technology program, and an information technology management program.

However, in 2006 the university is offering several new courses, among them a Master of Information Technology management, a program for recent graduates, which is available to both local and international students.

Also, in an attempt to help those professionals hoping to align business with IT in their organization, a new Graduate Certificate in Strategic Information Technology Leadership will be available in the New Year for local IT professionals and managers.

While UTS doesn't offer distance education, there are alternatives to plain classroom learning.

"Subjects do utilize online learning to differing degrees but students still need to attend lectures, labs and tutorials," Wilson said.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) associate professor for the School of Information Studies Irfan Altas hopes that a more holistic approach to study of IT will become popular with students, to help get a foot in both the technological and business worlds.

"If that occurs then students will graduate with a knowledge of how and why the ICT will be used in an organization and they will have the necessary 'language' of both 'camps' as a part of their repertoire," Altas said.

"Time will tell if that trend will become entrenched though it has not as yet."

CSU, which has campuses at Bathurst, Wagga Wagg and Dubbo as well as at Albury-Wodonga, is also offering a range of IT postgraduate courses next year, including a Master of database design and management, in which Microsoft SQL 205 industry certificates will be integral.

But of particular interest is the new Graduate Certificate in ICT education.

"This course is designed to train school teachers and will help them integrate information and communication technologies into their operations to improve student learning, to offer flexible learning opportunities and to improve the efficiency of their business practices,' Altas said.

As for required skills in the future, Altas lists several.

"Mobile commerce and the technology enabling it are likely to be more important or popular in future," Altas said.

"Security of information and the underlying ICT environment will have to be elevated in importance as well."

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