Computer science degrees have been seen as an important part of the Irish economy since the Industrial Revolution, with the number of computer science degrees rising steadily over the past decade.
The number of graduates of computer and computer science degree programmes in Ireland rose by almost 50 per cent between 2011 and 2017, with nearly 90 per cent of these graduates being women.
Computer science and computer engineering are two of the top-ranked degrees in the subject.
However, while computer science is still the preferred field for many students and employers, the popularity of the subject in other fields has been decreasing.
According to the National Centre for Computer Science and Engineering, in 2017, the number, size and number of computing degrees awarded per university in Ireland decreased by 1.8 per cent.
However, in 2018, this trend has reversed, with computer science programs awarded per student increasing by 0.6 per cent, and computing degrees being awarded per course increasing by 3.3 per cent to reach 2,534.
In 2018, the Irish Institute of Technology (IIT) was the only one of the four Irish universities that awarded more computing degrees than computer science, with 726 computing degrees, according to the IIT data.
According the National Council for Science Education (NCSE), computer science has been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years, with around 60 per cent more students taking computing courses this year than in 2016.
The NCSE figures suggest that there has been a great change in the way that students are preparing for and graduating from the computer science curriculum, with almost one in five students completing a computing course at university.
The IITs computer science program, which was launched in the early 1980s, has been recognised as one of Ireland’s best and most effective universities.
The Computer Science Association of Ireland (CSAI) says that the program is among the top 10 universities in the country for research excellence and innovation.
The CSAI is the national association for computer science graduates and the ICTI, which is a network of more than 30 universities in Ireland, has more than 20,000 members.
The Association for Computing in Education (ACCE) has identified the University of Technology, Dublin as one the top five computer science universities in Europe, and the Computer Science Research Institute of Ireland as one that has the most advanced computer science research programs.
However there are still concerns about the academic quality of the university computing degree.
According to the Centre for Computational Ethics (CCEH), the computer and computing degree are not suitable for all students, as they may be too technical for some students.
In addition, there are concerns about how students are prepared to work in the workplace, with recent research finding that students may have difficulty retaining relevant skills.
The IIT has been criticised by the ICAE for being overly strict about computer science courses and the number and quality of computer coursework.
In a recent report, the ITCE criticised the IACE’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the computer sciences, saying that the organization does not provide students with the opportunities they need to learn, prepare and gain relevant skills in computer science.
The report also highlighted the concerns that students might not have the necessary knowledge to make it through the computer technology course they are required to complete.
The new IIT and IITES policies on computer science will see the completion of all computing courses in computing and technology as a required course.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) also voiced concerns about this approach, saying in its 2017 annual report that the curriculum is too strict and the curriculum itself is too expensive.
According a 2017 report by the Centre of Excellence for Computing Research, a non-profit organisation, students in Ireland do not have enough time to complete their degrees, as most courses are not required to be completed within five years of graduation.
The NIH has also called on the ITA to review its policies on computing degrees.