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Oracle professor calls for industry input in IT education

Carl Dudley lectures on database technology at the University of Wolverhampton

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A professor of Oracle database technology at the University of Wolverhampton is calling on industry to fund costly hardware and to also make commitments to help teach students.

Carl Dudley spoke to Techworld's sister title Computerworld UK at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco last week, where he explained that Wolverhampton is unique in that it offers specific modules in Oracle technology, which are learned in some form or other by between three and four hundred students a year.

He said: "We don't use Oracle for any business purpose whatsoever, all we use it for is teaching, so it's a very different set of problems we are facing."

"If you can give students experience in Oracle products, tools and technology, it does give them an edge. I have also been involved with the UK Oracle User Group since 1986, which gives us a good idea of the marketplace and what kind of things we set out to teach."

Wolverhampton is part of the Oracle Academic Initiative, which allows it to pay very little for licences to teach the software. However, it is the hardware that Dudley is finding 'very tricky'.

"Try and get Exadata into a university, it's a hard one for us because it's an investment problem. You have to invest an awful lot of money to teach those technologies and there is only so much we can do unless sponsorship happens," said Dudley.

He added that getting staff that have the skills to teach students how to use the latest technology is also a challenge and is worsened by the supressed salaries in the public sector.

"The more we can cooperate with industry the better. I have been involved in sponsorship of kit in the past and the problem is also the follow up. We have the kit delivered, and it's nice and shiny, but who is going to train us up? It's lost then. We need input from industry and sponsors to help maintain the courses," he said.

"I'm sure that it would also help the employers as much as it helps us [through the skills that would be added to the marketplace]."



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