Tinker, Tailor, Student, Spy?
UCL in link up with GCHQ.
UCL is set to become part of the frontline of Britain’s defence against cyber-attacks and terrorism after the government announced on Monday that it would receive £50,000 upfront to become an “Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research”.
The funding will see UCL work closely with Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to support them in preventing attacks on the UK and to create new systems to deter such attacks occurring.
In addition it is expected that the university will churn out “top quality” graduates who will go on to work for GCHQ as cyber spies.
Whilst the work is more “Spooks” than “James Bond” students will be hoping that the agreement will allow exciting new work opportunities when they graduate- particularly if they possess a maths or technology related degree.
Given UCL’s recent links with Islamic extremism however some have suggested that it is an opportunity to “spy on UCL students” as one undergraduate put it. Another student, third year Lucius Winslow, suggested however that this was far from a bad thing, since, as he put it “the underwear bomber showed there is extremism on campus”
Ulterior motives aside the announcement is sure to be a boost to UCL, both in terms of prestige and in offering graduates a more direct route to a highly respected public sector organisation.
Whether or not we’ll see a few UCL alumni popping up at black tie receptions sipping martinis (shaken, not stirred) remains to be seen.