that will attract more graduate students
to the discipline.
The provincial ministries of education must provide a consistent and relevant curriculum to primary and secondary schools, recognize CS as a teachable
academic subject in all 10 provinces,
and promote and support the continued development of CS teachers in an
area that is always changing.
The federal and provincial governments must also help communicate
and promote the number and diversity
of employment opportunities in the
ICT sector, providing incentives for students to study the discipline as a cornerstone of the national and international
Universities. Universities must adapt
their curricula to engage and retain
new students and provide multidisciplinary programs that are attractive to
students and industry alike. Moreover,
they must create an environment and
teaching style that is more appealing
to women, introducing new notions of
creativity into their programs, and improve retention rates through better engagement of students.
The very structure of university CS
programs must also change. Foundation CS courses in the first and second
years must capture the breadth of CS;
meanwhile, specializations (in both
university programs and industry) rely
on only a subset of the core, branding
the unreferenced material irrelevant.
Also, many first-year CS programs assume that students lack a worthwhile
computing background on which to
build. Universities must rethink what
they expect from their core courses and
simplify advanced placement in their
Universities are positioned to provide role models (including students,
teachers, and practitioners) at the leading edge of technology. They must be
excited about the discipline and find
ways to convey to their audience the exciting directions in which it is heading.
They must also be able to connect their
audience with how work in the ICT sector affects the social and economic aspects of daily life.
Universities must also adapt their
own regulations to recognize the importance of CS in the competitive global economy by, say, including a beginning course in all university programs,
transfer credits or advanced placement
into CS programs based on high-school
CS courses, and basic CS concepts in all
degree requirements, even the humanities. They must therefore revise their si-lo-based organization to facilitate and
encourage multidisciplinary education
High schools. The high school partners across the Canadian educational
system preparing students to consider
ICT as a possible career path could now
take several new directions: First, they
could offer CS courses that introduce
students to computing concepts beyond the applications in the students’
own studies (some already do this) but
must provide consistency and continual updates. Delivery of the material,
as well as the resources for teaching
it, must engage the students. The high
schools, and likely the primary schools,
must also find ways to keep women
connected with all the sciences as they
reach grade 12.
The products and services of the ICT
sector represent a cornerstone of the
developing global knowledge society.
ICT is one factor increasing the productivity of the Canadian work force; ICT
must continue to strengthen this productivity if Canadian businesses are to
remain competitive. Sustained success
in the ICT sector, essential to Canada’s
national interest and prosperity, requires that all participants—public,
private, and educational—continually
adapt to changes in technology and its
applications. This requires a Canadian
national work force that is dedicated,
informed, sophisticated, and agile.
For the sake of the overall Canadian
economy, it is imperative that the country’s public, private, and educational
sectors all play a role in increasing the
numbers of students studying CS in
high school and university in order to
sustain the required ICT work force. All
must focus on changing the public’s
perception of the industry and its employment opportunities and adapt the
CS curricula to remain engaging and
relevant for all Canadian students.
All must invest time and money in
solving the current crisis of falling Canadian CS enrollment. Failure to do less
than what we propose here would harm
future generations. That investment
must include stable, long-term financial support for CS education initiatives
that recognize the time commitment
required of the leaders in all sectors.
We would like to thank the people who
helped us prepare this article:
˲ The chairs of Canadian university
CS departments for their participation,
openness, and feedback in discussing
and quantifying the issues facing the
Canadian ICT sector;
˲ The industry partners who met with
us for our on-site interviews concerning
their perspective on the direction of the
˲Paul Swinwood of the Information and Communications Technology
Council ( www.ictc-ctic.ca/) for helping
sponsor our work;
˲ Business Objects, an SAP company,
IBM, and Research In Motion for providing additional industrial contacts;
˲ The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (www.
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Washington, D. C., 2006; www.cra.org/statistics.
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University Student Statistics 2002–2005. Australian
Council of Deans of Science, Australia, 2007; www.
educationalpolicy.org/pdf/DeansOfSci-IT- 2_9-07.pdf .
3. Slonim, J., Scully, S., and McAllister, M. Outlook
on Enrollments in Computer Science in Canadian
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Technology Council, 2008; www.ictc-ctic-ca/
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and Image of the Informatics Discipline. Utrecht
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Jacob Slonim ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor in the
Faculty of Computer Science of Dalhousie University,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Sam Scully ( email@example.com) is the former Vice-President Academic and Provost and Professor of Classics
in Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Michael McAllister ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate
professor in the Faculty of Computer Science of Dalhousie
University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
© 2008 ACM 0001-0782/08/1000 $5.00