GCHQ targets the 'Xbox generation' with cybersecurity university degrees

Six universities will now offer GCHQ-accredited courses on cyber security as part of government's plan to safeguard UK economy

Intelligence agency GCHQ has partnered with six universities in the UK to offer specialized degrees in internet security.

The BBC reports that the accredited master’s degrees are part of the UK’s 2011 cyber security strategy, with the aim being “to expand the pool of experts with in-depth knowledge of cyber” in the country.

The degrees will target the so-called 'Xbox generation' said one official, who have social media and gaming skills but no formal computer education.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that the program was a “crucial part” of the government’s long-term plans for the British economy and would help make the "UK one of the safest places in the world to do business online".

The degrees are aimed at students who are already suitably qualified in degrees including science, technology and engineering, and who will spend two years learning about online communications, security and engineering through work placements, technical training and formal education.

“Through the excellent work of GCHQ, in partnership with other government departments, the private sector and academia, we are able to counter threats and ensure together we are stronger and more aware,” said Maude.

The GCHQ-approved degrees are now in place at Edinburgh Napier University, Lancaster University, the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London.

Cranfield University's cyber defence and information assurance course and the University of Surrey's information security course have also been approved.