Students to Get Free Money to Prepare for Career in Cyber Security

New undergraduate students in the UK will be able to apply this autumn for a brand new Cyber Skills financial assistance package that is designed to help prepare them for a career in cyber security.

The CyberFirst bursary scheme is part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme and will be operated via collaboration between the UK government’s intelligence agency ‘GCHQ’, other government departments and private industry.

What Could Students Receive?

The CESG website states that the scheme could offer successful undergraduate applicants who are eligible an annual bursary of £4,000 for each year of degree study in a Sciences, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM) or a Social Science degree. Other opportunities that the new scheme could provide include:

  1. Paid Summer Work activities with GCHQ or other parts of government or industry involved in national security for each year of study (a mix of training, learning and development and work experience).
  2. A possible 3 years of work in a Cyber Security role after graduation.
  3. Membership of the CyberFirst Student Community. This part of the scheme can provide peer mentoring and advice from cyber security experts.

Who Can Apply?

Applications for this new financial assistance package will however only be open to UK citizens who have 3 A-levels (grades A to C) in at least 2 STEM subjects and who also have an offer to study an undergraduate degree in STEM subjects or social science at a UK university starting autumn 2016. Students can apply for the scheme here.

Other Opportunities and Courses for Girls and Younger Students

The CyberFirst National Cyber Security Programme will also be running girls-only development days through GCHQ from this summer to help encourage 14 and 15 year olds to consider pursuing a career in cyber security.

The Smallpiece Trust will be delivering 4 day residential courses designed by GCHQ and targeted at 16 and 17 year olds. These courses will focus on giving young people the chance to gain some hands-on experience in understanding vulnerabilities and protecting networks.

18 year olds will also be able to benefit from a 3 week ‘CyberFirst Advanced’ residential course where they can learn a variety of new skills in areas ranging from ethics to programming.

What Does This Mean For Your Company?

Levels of cyber crime have risen at an alarming rate in the last few years and although the cyber criminals have become more ‘professional’ and sophisticated, businesses have struggled to recruit people with adequate cyber security knowledge because of a skills gap in this vital area.

The CyberFirst scheme could therefore be one important way of helping to bridge this gap for UK businesses. The fact that this scheme is operating is also a clear acknowledgement by the government of the risks that all UK businesses now face on a daily basis.