The world's first .Net Masters course is to be run by Hull University, preempting a surge in demand for skills in distributed computing.
The new Masters degree course in distributed and mobile computing will offer hands-on experience of working code from Microsoft language C# as well as the CLI - the standard that describes the core of the .Net Framework.
But although the course offers students the opportunity to gain hands on experience of .Net source code the university has preferred not to badge the course with the Microsoft brand.
Dr David Grey, programme director at Hull University, told vnunet.com the decision to launch the course was based on research and feedback from employers about the technical skills they were looking for.
"It's the first time we've been able to put large pieces of commercial grade software in front of students," said Grey. "Due to the breadth of the Computer Science discipline, students do not always have the opportunity to fully develop the skills required to create future large scale IT systems.
"This new course will go a long way in bridging the gap. We use some Microsoft technologies to expose students to the .Net framework because we believe they'll be skills that employers will look for."
The course is aimed at students preparing for senior systems architect or development roles and the university is hoping to sign up between 30 and 40 students for the inaugural course starting in September 2003.
Dr Stuart Nielsen-Marsh, Microsoft .Net Academia manager, said the move highlighted a recognition that collaboration between industry and academia would play a key role in solving future challenges in the IT industry.
"This is not a shift away from certification. It's still very important to us but I see the work with Hull as taking people who know how to fix problems and the theory about why problems occurred in the first place so they can be avoided," Nielsen-Marsh said.
The course also exposes students to transferable skills, including project management, team working and report writing, although the university will not offer Microsoft certification as part of the degree.
"We've not had a lot of evidence from students that Microsoft certification would help them get a job," said Derek Wills, head of the Computer Science department at the university.
"There are a number of criteria we feel we have to meet - students must get a good, strong foundation in the theory of computing to prepare them for the fast changes in the industry.
It's based on the concept of lifelong learning and not just providing skills to help them get jobs."
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