As a final year graduate at UTS, with 2 years of experience in the field and the former vice-president of the UTS Programmers' Society (UTS ProgSoc), I often get asked about the best degree options within UTS for breaking into the tech industry. While this guide is not the be-all and end-all for decision-making and mainly reflects my personal opinion on degree options, I hope it helps shed some light on the value of each specific degree.
Bachelor of Information Technology (Non-Coop) (BIT) - Formerly Known as Bachelor of Science in IT (BscIT)
Formerly known as Bachelor of Science in IT (BscIT), this degree offers students a comprehensive education in various information technology areas. With sub-majors in areas like Business Information Systems Management, Data Analytics, and Networking and Cybersecurity, this degree enables students to tailor their education according to their specific interests. Through its flexibility, this degree allows students to mix and match subjects and interests together, allowing them to get the most out of their university experience.
This, being the shortest degree available within the IT umbrella, makes it quite desirable for undergraduates looking to jump into industry as soon as possible.
With this in mind, however, one potential drawback is the Diploma in IT Professional Practice, which many find to be a waste of time and money due to it being an additional year of work for the sole purpose of work placement. This, combined with the university not offering much in terms of internship advice/support leads to this diploma not offering much value and instead just adding an extra year of education with no substance associated with it. Fortunately, this Diploma of IT Professional Practice is optional and can be dropped/transferred out of at any time throughout your degree.
Bachelor of Information Technology (Co-op) (BIT Co-op)
Similar to the Bachelor of IT, the Bachelor of IT (Co-op) follows the same course structure as the BIT program, also being 3 years in duration. However, This degree variant is a Co-op scholar-based program aimed at high-achieving students.
Valued at $49,500 over three years, the program covers three internships in the IT sector, offering students real-world experience and excellent job prospects upon completion. Designed in collaboration with industry sponsors, the program focuses on developing both strong technical and business-related skills in students.
One key advantage of the BIT Co-op program is the industry connections and paid internships it provides to students. This experience, especially early on, is incredibly valuable as it is significantly harder to apply for graduate/intern positions without work experience. With this degree, if you're fortunate enough to be accepted in, makes the internship process incredibly easy as it makes the university itself do the heavy lifting with finding and matching you into an associated Co-op placement program with a supported industry partner.
There are minimal to no drawbacks for this specific degree. The only considerations to take into account is this degree is a scholar-based program with limited spots, usually taking approximately 25-35 people a year, with the application process being competitive.
Whilst it is highly valuable, internships/work placements are mandatory throughout this degree and are a condition of you maintaining your scholarship status, which may be an issue if you are paired with a poor team / toxic work environment within the scholar program. While remediation options are available and the opportunity to choose another company in your next rotation is an option, this is a potential issue worth considering.
Computing Science (Honours) - Computer Science
Computer Science (Honours) is a versatile degree offering a broad range of subjects, including theoretical computer science, computer systems, artificial intelligence, and applied computer science. Although flexibility in choosing electives and majors is offered, it is significantly limited compared to the Bachelor of IT. The mandatory honour year and required math and computer science theory subjects reduce the total number of free electives.
Besides its name, one advantage of this degree is the focus on complex and thorough theoretical computer science topics, allowing for a strong understanding of foundational theory. Additionally, this degree is designed for future research opportunities, as the honour year enables aspiring researchers to progress directly to a PhD program, bypassing a master's degree.
However, for industry-focused students, the practical and time-saving option may be the Bachelor of IT degree or the IDeA cadetship, which offer similar theory subjects but are more tailored to practical applications. Unfortunately, UTS does not currently provide a non-Co-op or non-Honours program in Computing Science.
Computer Science - Industry Degree Academy (IDeA)
The Industry Degree Academy (IDeA) is a relatively new 3-year program introduced by UTS in 2023. Targeting current school leavers and gap-year students, this program enables them to obtain a Bachelor of Computing Science while working alongside their studies. The IDeA program is tailored for those wanting to enter the industry as soon as possible, granting students two years of industry experience by graduation.
The main benefits of the IDeA program include the built-in industry experience and the flexibility between work and study it offers. However, its exclusivity to current school leavers and gap-year students may limit access for other potential students.
Information on this specific degree is limited as it's just been launched. However, the focus on work placement similar to BiT, in addition to the theoretical focus CS at UTS follows, leads to this option potentially being the best choice available for industry-focused students if you're eligible.
Bachelor of Games Development
Focusing on the interactive entertainment industry, Bachelor of Games Development teaches students how to design software for virtual worlds, 3D graphics, realistic physics, and complex artificial intelligence systems. This degree is specifically designed to prepare students for careers in the gaming sector.
While the degree is an excellent choice for those passionate about gaming, its specific focus on the gaming industry may limit opportunities in other fields.
Bachelor of Information Systems
This degree is designed to equip students with knowledge and skills in information systems applications across different areas. It aims to solve complex problems and develop solutions using data analysis, communication skills, and a variety of technical proficiencies.
In reality, however, the Bachelor of Information System in its current state within UTS is lacking after budget cuts and course reorganizations. With a highly rigid structure with zero free electives and instead mandatory streams with the IS studios being repetitive, providing little to no technical value within the focus of Information Technology / Information Systems. The Bachelor of Information Systems at UTS is lacking.
This, paired with no options of majors / specializing and many core classes being cancelled and replaced with other subjects from other degrees, has led to this course being incomplete and inconsistent. It is to my great displeasure to not recommend this course to anyone, regardless of circumstances, and I would highly recommend any student considering pursuing this or currently pursuing this to transfer/enroll into a Bachelor of IT (BiT) instead, which provides greater flexibility, better subjects, majors, optional electives with overall fewer restrictions in general.
Software Engineering, whilst similar to Computer Science, primarily focuses on the more practical applications of software systems rather than theoretical underpinnings. This degree emphasizes and focuses on the process of developing, operating, and maintaining software whilst equipping students with essential project management and software testing skills and frameworks. Additionally, Software Engineering also includes project-based classes designed to teach student management principles and teamwork in a collaborative team-based environment, where students work together to build large enterprise systems.
A significant advantage of Software Engineering, compared to Computer Science, is its well-rounded perspective combining both theoretical and practical knowledge and not only focusing on research & theory. However, it is worth noting that this degree can take up to 5 years to complete, compared to the 4 and 3 years respectively needed for Computer Science and the Bachelor of IT.
This duration difference, in addition to most skills learnt in software engineering not being immediately applicable in the industry, as many graduates won't immediately enter the management track until 4-5 years of experience on average, may make this degree not worth considering. This in addition to this degree being an engineering-based degree, leading to the maths focus being physics focused instead of discrete based, leads to the majority of theory being non-applicable in a software engineering context, with the exception of transdisciplinary work such as developing civil engineering software, the addition 1-2 years of education may not be worth it to a software engineer focusing to enter the industry as soon as possible.
In conclusion, the Bachelor of IT (Co-op) and Bachelor of IT (non-coop) degrees are highly recommended as they provide a solid foundation in technology, coupled with relevant industry experience. By pursuing these programs and complementing your studies with extracurricular activities such as societies, hackathons, awards, personal projects, and internships, you will maximize your chances of success and secure high-paying job opportunities. Furthermore, these degrees allow you to minimize your time spent at university and reduce student debt, ensuring a more efficient and cost-effective educational experience.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. All the degree options discussed can lead you to a fulfilling career and a great job in the tech industry. It's essential to consider your preferences, passions, and long-term goals when selecting the degree that best aligns with your interests and aspirations. Remember, your educational journey is what you make of it, and there is no right or wrong choice, only the path that best suits you.