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IT students get corporate backing
by Richard Powell at 10:00 14/03/03 (IT)
In what may become a growing trend this year, students at the University of Sussex are to receive an annual salary for developing IT systems for their corporate sponsor, American Express.
The University of Sussex beat off competition from rival technology courses at other UK universities to join forces with the credit card giant to offer a new way to study and gain work experience in IT.

Under the arrangement, thirty students will work part-time for American Express for two years, based in the Sussex Innovation Centre on the University of Sussex campus, while studying for a Masters degree in computing at its Department of Informatics.

Graduates will receive an annual salary of £15,250 from American Express plus a £1,000 bonus.

Professor Alasdair Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: "The University is delighted to be working with American Express on this ground-breaking partnership in a research-based computer science department."

The sponsor will also pay the tuition fees for the course.

At the end of the two years, the highest performing students will have an opportunity to gain a full-time job with American Express.

Students will take the new MSc in Information Technology for e-commerce, which the university reports as having a very healthy take-up, or an MSc in Human Centred Computer Systems.

Martyn Carr, Vice President of Technologies at American Express, said: "We have developed this programme to provide graduates with an integrated package of part-time postgraduate study combined with unique hands-on experience that will be gained from working in the commercial environment."

The UK's biggest corporate-backed academic research facility is the Microsoft Research (MSR) centre at Cambridge University.

The creation of the laboratory in July 1997 represented Microsoft's first development centre outside the United States.

When the lab was officially opened the corporation invested £10 million in small technology firms in the Cambridge area.

Five million pounds was set aside for Amadeus I, a venture capital fund that supports early-stage technology start-ups with global potential.

However, it hasn't all been plain sailing for the corporate backers.

Cambridge University was embroiled in a row with some academics last June when it attempted to introduce what critics argued were ‘restrictive’ intellectual property rules on software developed by students on campus.

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Richard Powell, © Shout99.com 2003

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