Crippled by falling IT enrolments and the need to develop course material relevant to the CIO job title, a number of universities have joined together to launch an initiative that will lay the academic foundations for Australia's next generation of IT professionals.
Teachers from Swinburne University (Victoria), Queensland University of Technology and Wollongong University (NSW) met with the CIO Executive Council in Sydney last week to develop a new set of courses for IT professionals.
There are three courses - a graduate certificate comprising four units, a graduate diploma of eight and a Masters degree of 12 units.
The degree, developed with input from CIOs for CIOs, will be available from July this year.
South Australia's Curtin University and Adelaide University are also expected to join the initiative in coming months.
While some of the participants will come from an information technology background, the course, which has yet to be named, will feature a mix of 80 percent business skills and 20 percent technical aptitude.
Hamish Bentley, deputy head of the School of Information Systems at the Queensland University of Technology, said while the group has not settled on a title for the course, it has a good understanding on what will be useful to promote professionalism among CIOs.
"The course is really a blend of different skills and we are considering at the moment whether it will be taught by the various IT faculties," Bentley said adding that financial skills are also a part of the course.
"The support of practicing CIOs, who tell us some of the war stories, will help us form the right direction.
"The course will really reflect what a CIO does every day. We talk to CIOs and ask how such a course can take away their pain.
"We know what we want to achieve and the CIO Executive committee will be able to provide good, practical real-world grounding for the course."
The CIO Executive Council, which is a peer based forum for IT professionals launched in Australia last year, is spearheading the introduction of the course and is keen to see academic standards in place for the IT industry.
Council executive director Con Colovos said those with relevant industry experience or maturity can go straight into a graduate diploma or Masters course.
"We are creating a scenario where we will slowly, in a professional manner, put in place the means of giving businesses the opportunity to hire a CIO knowing he or she comes with credentials equal in value to a CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant)," Colovos said.
"We met with the NSW Attorney General's Department to discuss the governance and criteria and they were satisfied with the direction the CIO Executive Council is taking.
"All the information for the courses is put together by academics and the council advisory board, and complies with the business expectation for such a graduate - we won't be teaching programming - the course will be 80 percent business skills with 20 percent technical skills... we are primarily targeting the business component of a CIO."
The CIO Executive Council is a division of IDG, the publisher of Computerworld.