In the latest issue of its policy magazine Download, UK independent developer association Tiga has called on UK authorities to improve the standards of education in order to increase the number of talented students ideal for a job in games development.
Tiga outlined a number of recommendations it was putting to the Government:
In schools, Tiga recommended that the Government should:
• provide more generous bursaries to trainee teachers in mathematics and in computer science and more generous ‘golden hellos’ to teachers in mathematics and computer science with a good degree (i.e. 2:1 or above) in these subjects, to encourage them to teach in schools;
• give schools greater financial freedom so that they can pay higher salaries to attract the best teachers in, for example, mathematics or computer science;
• make the national curriculum more flexible in order to give schools the freedom to teach subjects such as computer programming; and
• promote the video games industry as a career option at school, not least to encourage more young people to stick with science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.
In higher education, Tiga urged the Government to:
• introduce a pilot programme whereby the tuition fees for students studying mathematics and computer science are reduced to give students a greater incentive to study these subjects;
• reverse the cuts that have taken place in computer science course funding; and
• aim over time to increase higher education funding from the current 1.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in order to enhance the quality of UK universities (the USA and China spend 2.9% and 1.3% respectively of GDP on higher education).
Tiga also called for the establishment of a Tiga managed Games Education Fund which could, for example:
• promote industrial secondments by funding the placement of lecturers in games businesses;
• fund research fellowships by enabling lecturers to concentrate on research activities rather than administrative and teaching responsibilities for between a term and an academic year;
• enable more games businesses to engage in education outreach and knowledge transfer with universities; and
• award individual lecturers and their universities for excellence in teaching, judged by their commitment to teaching, building industry-university links and other actions which ensure the output of first class quality graduates for the games industry.
“If the UK video games industry is to maintain its competitive edge then we must address the skills shortages hampering the industry. We need to improve standards in mathematics and the sciences in schools in order to increase the potential pool of graduates in these disciplines. Stronger financial incentives to attract the best graduates to teach in schools are part of the solution," said Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga.
“In higher education, tuition fees for mathematics and computer science students should be reduced in order to increase the supply of graduates in these areas. Additionally, our universities must be adequately funded. Cuts in computer science courses should be reversed. Students need up to date equipment and software.
“Employers have a vital part to play in improving skills in the games industry. The Government should aim to reduce corporation tax on businesses to leave them with more money available for investment, including on training.
“We need to strengthen industry-university links in the games industry. The establishment of a Tiga managed Games-Education Fund would achieve this objective. Deploying the Fund to promote industrial secondments, research fellowships, education outreach and knowledge transfer programmes, and excellence in teaching would not only strengthen links between developers and academia. Ultimately it would help to enhance the competitiveness of the UK games development sector.”