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Australian Financial Review : October 17th 2006
FBA 033 It may not look like much, but it's been around the world.Twice.Andinthe course ofthishumble suitcase's life, its owner will spend a lot more on airfares. IBM® has the business and technology knowledge to help you spot customers with long-term value, then reward and retain them. We're already helping airlines increase the accuracyofpredictingcustomer worth.Wantinnovation for loyalty? Talk to the innovator's innovator. To download a copy of our thought leadership piece, The Customer Focused Enterprise, or to learn more about what an IBM team can do for your business, visit ibm.com/special/au/crm this suitcase is worth $140,000. what makes you special?TM IBM, the IBM logo and What Makes You Special? are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. ©Copyright IBM Australia Limited 2006. ABN 79 00 0 024 733. ©Copyright IBM Corporation 200 6. All rights reserved. IBMCCA0678/AFR The Australian Financial Review www.afr.com Tuesday 17 October 2006 33 INFORMATION Students game for IT again Rachel Lebihan KEY POINTS University IT courses have been unpopular since the dotcom crash five years ago. Latest sample figures suggest student demand is rising again. Computer graphics and games development subjects are in high demand. Photo-illustration: SIMS AFR University computer courses may have recovered their mojo, with early figures indicating that technology programs are coming back into favour after years of dwindling enrolments. The number of students applying to study information technology as a first preference in 2007, for a selection of courses across all NSW and ACT universities, has increased to 587 from 425 this time last year, the Universities Admissions Centre (NSW & ACT) revealed yesterday. Overall, there were 4068 applications for the 22 courses across all nine preferences, up from 2508 last year. Data from the admissions centre last year showed first preference applications fell 17 per cent, after first-round offers dropped 15 per cent in 2005, 24 per cent in 2004, and 25 per cent in 2003. A spokeswoman for the centre said while the figures gave a snapshot of just 22 courses, they indicated an increased demand for IT study. The upward trend is supported by the faculty of informatics at the University of Wollongong, which has noted a 17 per cent increase in IT courses as a first preference for 2007 on 2006. ''We're seeing an upward trend, which is really good for us . . . because my understanding is we're staring a skills shortage in the face,'' said the executive director for the faculty of informatics, Solveig Dewhurst. The University of Technology, Sydney, is relieved that interest in IT courses for 2007 has stabilised. First preference applications were down just 2 per cent. The result is expected to improve by the time final applications are made. The head of the computer systems department at UTS, Andy Simmonds, said the 2 per cent fall in first preference applications for its bachelor of science in IT indicated the downward trend had ''bottomed out''. ''It's early days yet, but that is good news,'' Dr Simmonds said. ''We expect to improve on that and get into positive figures.'' The better outlook follows a dismal five-year stretch for IT departments as employment opportunities diminished after the dotcom crash. In Queensland, first preference applications to study IT for 2006 were down 12.2 per cent and first- round offers for places on IT courses dropped 49.6 per cent between 2001 and 2004. Victoria has seen a 48 per cent decline in students enrolling in IT courses at Monash University alone over the past five years. The University of Wollongong has taken a number of steps to raise interest in IT courses, including boosting marketing efforts for 2007. It has added a multimedia and games development major to its bachelor of computer science. ''That's just gone gang- busters,'' Ms Dewhurst said. The university had decided not to go the way of many other institutions by rolling out a general course in multimedia and games development, incorporating it instead as a major in an existing undergraduate program. ''We have very high graduate placements and need to maintain the integrity of our courses,'' Ms Dewhurst said. ''If the trend in multimedia and games development is going to dip, at least our graduates will have a good basic education.'' UTS is also taking tentative steps into the games market, having seen high demand for the computer graphics and games development subjects it offers as part of other degrees. The university has negotiated to take a small number of students next year who have studied for games diplomas at Hornsby TAFE. They will study the games subjects already on offer at UTS, which will lead to a bachelor of science in games development and design. A revolution for the taxpayers ONLINE Federal government IT projects Department Project Budget Human Services Immigration Taxation Office Centrelink Defence Customs Foreign Affairs Access Card Systems for People Change Program IT Refresh Wide area network replacement Cargo management re-engineering ePassport $1.1bn $495m $450m $312m $250m $205m $165m From page 29 to a loss of strategic control over public sector technology. ''I think it is true to say we've been a little bit slow to grasp the full capacity of IT,'' Dr Shergold told The Australian Financial Review. ''People will only really engage with the government electronically when they are able to do transactions. Until people start to transact [over the internet] with government, then the technology will not be taken up to the degree that we need.'' Several ministers, including Health Minister Tony Abbott and Human Services Minister Joe Hockey, are believed to regard Medicare as the prime example of how entrenched bureaucratic resistance has left government services technology decades behind the commercial sector. To wrest back strategic control over the government's technology agenda, Dr Shergold has sheeted the responsibility for the success or failure of government technology projects directly back to individual departmental and agency heads. Specifically, department heads and chief executives are required to co-ordinate technology strategy through a formal committee to avoid the repetition of major IT breakdowns that plagued the Australian Customs Service and the Department of Immigration. Both agencies have seen their chief executives replaced in the past 12 months by senior public servants who are regarded as having successfully run large technology projects. Auto-population pioneer and former Taxation Commissioner Michael Carmody now heads Customs after instigating a $450 million technology overhaul. DIMA secretary Andrew Metcalfe and deputy secretary Bob Correll both pushed through new IT systems at the Department of Employment Workplace Relations where Dr Shergold was once secretary. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has also established a powerful Cabinet Implementation Unit (CIU) to assess all new projects for their impact across the entire government. Some have likened it to a public sector project flying squad, largely because of its project veto powers.