The University of Melbourne and Edith Cowan
University (ECU) will share $1.91 million of government funding over four years
to establish ‘Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence’ (ACCSE).
The funding is part of an effort to “help
build the required expertise and job-ready skills” in information security
which are desperately needed by Australian industry and government, Minister
for Education and Training Simon Birmingham and Minister Assisting the Prime
Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said in a statement today.
The ACCSE program is part of the government’s $230millionCyber Security Strategylaunched by Prime
Minister Malcolm Turnbull in
April last year.
The funding will be sued to encourage more
students to undertake studies in cyber security; increase the number of highly qualified
post-graduates with job ready skills and provide support for research that
addresses key cyber security challenges confronting the nation.
“Our ambition is to attract more of
Australia’s best and brightest into this critically important area, regardless
of their background,” Birmingham said today. “Graduates from the successful centres of excellence will
be equipped with the best knowledge to meet the needs of the cyber industry,
business and government.”
“What’s more, the centres will encourage the
commercialisation of their cyber security research and benefit Australia’s
small and medium sized industries.”
It is expected that the ACCSE will be
self-sustaining with ongoing operations funded through student course fees and
fee-for-service income, including from Government agencies and the private
The universities will also use the funding to improve the
awareness of cyber security issues among the general public. This work includes
programs to encourage more school-age children to study STEM subjects related
to cyber security, short courses for those already in the workforce and
opportunities for TAFE students to move into a university study.
“Encouraging a generation of Australian
cyber security professionals is good for our cyber security, good for the
economy and good for the young Australians who pursue careers in this area,”
ECU School of Science Executive Dean Professor
Andrew Woodwardsaid graduates with cyber security skill were in high and constant demand.
“Cyber security skills are in such high demand we see our best
students being offered six figure salaries when they’re only in their second
year of a degree. The industry is booming globally right now. It has been for
the past decade and will continue to boom into the next decade.” he said.
“Unlike industries such as mining and construction which can
boom and bust – we’re only connecting more devices to the internet and that
means more demand for cyber security professionals. That demand is being fed by
the realisation that companies outside the tech industry need trained cyber
Since 2001 more than 1000 cyber security
professionals have graduated from ECU’s cyber security program – one of the
longest running programs of its kind in Australia.
The private sector has also been funding
cyber security centre’s within universities over recent months. At the end
of last year Optus Business formed a partnership with
La Trobe University to offer a “market leading” cyber security degree.
The partnership followed the
launch of the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub, the
result of a $10m dollar between the telco and the Sydney university.
October last year saw the launch of the SEC.EDU Security Engineering Lab at UNSW which was backed by the Commonwealth Bank.
The lack of cyber security professionals is
felt more acutely in Australia than in other countries, according to a 2016 survey
by US think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The survey’s respondents predicted that 17 per
cent of cybersecurity positions advertised by their company would
go unfilled by 2020. Nearly 90 per cent of Australian IT decision makers
believe there is a shortage of cyber security skills both in their organisation
and within the nation.