Students will get funding support through university if they choose a cyber-security related course as part of a new scheme, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said on Tuesday in the Commons.
The students will be given £4,000 a year to study relevant science, technology, engineering or maths courses and will have to work during vacations and years out with the government or cyber-security companies.
However, they will then have to work for the government for a minimum of three years before the financial support is written down.
Mr Maude said the scheme would draw heavily on Israel’s Talpiot programme, which he saw on a visit to the country in November. Partly as a result, Israel has an elite development for cyber security experts.
Speaking in the Commons today, Mr Maude said that the new scheme will be a vital pipeline for top-end cyber talent. “Initially we will pilot Cyber First with a few tens of students, he said.
“Cyber First is the latest in a series of initiatives building cyber skills, including new apprenticeships, and introducing cyber-security to the National Citizen Service and ensuring that it is included in relevant courses leading to computing and digital qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds.”
The Tory minister also announced three joint UK-Israel cyber research projects, with similar schemes to go ahead with Singapore later this year.
Mr Maude said Kent and Surrey universities had been added to the list of centres of excellence status in cyber research.
A report published yesterday by the Government and Marsh - a UK risk adviser - showed that 81 per cent of large businesses and 60 per cent of small businesses suffered a security breach last year.
Back in 2010 the Coalition also identified cyber as one of four tier 1 national security threats, as companies and governments around the world face more sophisticated attacks. This means that 88 per cent of FTSE 350 companies now have cyber-security on their risk registers.
“We cannot let our economic progress be undermined by those who would do us harm,” Mr Maude said.
As part of the UK’s cyber-security strategy published in 2011, the UK government has allotted since £860m to the national cyber-security programme.