When I left university 10 years ago, I had no clue I would end up in QA/Testing. I didn’t even realise it was an option! Looking back on my degree course (and I really enjoyed my degree), it was very Programming heavy (C#, C++, Java and Prolog all taught) and testing was only taught as part of the Software Engineering module where maybe a week or two of lectures were given and there was a group project where one person was responsible for ‘testing’.
So, ten years on, have things changed? I’ve looked through the course content for the top UK universities for Computer Science to see how much content on Testing is available. Here are my findings:
- The first University to have a module on ‘Software Testing’ was Swansea (ranked 11th)
- Newcastle (ranked 14th) has a ‘Software Engineering Professional’ module in year 1 which covers ‘testing and debugging tools’ and a ‘Software Engineering’ module which covers the testing fundamentals
- Surrey (ranked 8th) had a ‘Software Quality’ module in it’s ‘Software Development for Business’ degree
- St Andrews, Oxford & Cambridge have modules on Model Checking which is not strictly testing but instead a pre-execution activity.
- 6-7 of the top 10 have Software Engineering modules where Testing was a line item in the module description
So in a short answer, not a great deal of universities cover testing in any great detail. Swansea and Newcastle cover more than most.
I imagine a lot of students are leaving the top universities thinking Programming or Software Development are the main options for careers. How can it be changed? The software industry has evolved over the past few years to realise the important role testing plays in the software lifecycle. Can universities be made aware of this too?
I’m potentially going back to my university to give a careers talk in the near future and really want to paint this picture of the importance of testing. If students could see and feel the atmosphere at conferences such as Testbash or at Tester Gatherings up at down the country and feel the passion that so many testers feel for the job they do, it would open their eyes and make them realise the potential of other careers available to them.
Testing should be seen as an equal to development or at least a close second but a lot of these degrees are portraying it as a much smaller element of the SDLC.
I think maybe the issue with most/all Computer Science degree courses is that they are very Programming heavy, maybe they could teach slightly less of that and cover a lot more topics not just Testing.
If anyone has any suggestions for stuff I could share with Students about testing, if and when I get to give a careers talk, please comment here or tweet me @siprior.