Studying information systems in Australia
Information systems graduates are sought after in the business world and Australia is a great place to study this exciting subject.
Australia is a great place to live, work and study. Australians live in a democratic society which is highly multicultural. Australia’s environment is friendly, safe and affordable for international students who wish to study in a range of disciplines.
What is so special about studying information systems in Australia?Australia might be an island nation, but with modern communications and information systems, any isolation it may have had in the past is vastly reduced. Australians are hungry consumers of technology and rank close to the United States in information technology adoption and uptake. So the use of information systems and the need for skilled and knowledgeable people educated in the information systems discipline is significant.
Australian universities cater for a diverse range of education experiences in the information systems area to cover the large number of careers and career opportunities in information systems. So choice of study programme is wide. Australian universities also have access to advanced domestic telecommunications infrastructure and extensive high technology networks to provide state-of-the-art information systems courses and research programmes.
“Technology is the most influential force on individuals’ behaviour and on the structures of society”
All of Australia’s universities offer some form of information technology programme, from technically-oriented computer science and software engineering degrees (often located in faculties of science or engineering) to business-related information systems and information technology management degrees (often located in faculties of business or commerce).
Most universities provide degrees at undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and postgraduate research level. A majority of these courses are accredited at professional level by the Australian Computer Society which, under the Seoul Accord, means that the qualifications are recognised globally. A full list of the universities and courses that are accredited with ACS is available on their website.
The discipline of information systems (IS) has a focus on human and organisational factors largely using behavioural concepts of organisational, systems and software issues. IS researchers tend to explore things (theories, concepts, techniques, projects) and generally use qualitative and quantitative evaluative research approaches, particularly research methods such as field studies, case studies, surveys and action research. They tend to focus on business application systems in commercial contexts, but broader application areas are studied as well.
Today, technology is the most influential force on individuals’ behaviour and on the structures of society - the developer of technology must be prepared to consider the principles, benefits and shortcomings of new technologies within the context of society and culture to be a thoughtful designer. Study of information systems tends to be practice-orientated using a mixture of lectures, tutorials, online resources and laboratory exercises to provide real world context and examples of commercial application to underlying theoretical concepts.
Courses will replicate the business environment where IS is about teams of people inventing, communicating, problem solving and designing a solution to business problems that are continually changing as a result of rapid changes in technology and constant shifting of the commercial landscape.
IS graduates interact with and contribute to every level of an organisation’s structure - they translate information needs into technology needs and translate technological capabilities into new business capabilities, becoming critical links in achieving organisational goals. Typical entry level IS jobs are:
- Business analyst, identifying technological needs of business people
- Business process designer, making organisations more efficient and profitable
- Consultant, assisting organisations in solving information problems
- Website designer, determining how web applications ‘look and feel’
Further information on IS jobs with descriptions, responsibilities, requirements and indications of salary is available from many websites, such as the ACS website - www.acs.org.au/ictcareers - and the Youth central website - www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au
“Australia has more than 200,000 international students in Australian institutions across all education sectors”
Australia is a vast country, almost the same size as the mainland United States or continental Europe. The universities are spread throughout the country so students can study in areas with varied scenery and climate, from tropical Northern Territory to temperate Tasmania, to the vast expanses of Western Australia. However, as over 85% of Australia’s population live on the coastal fringes and nearly 50% in the major cities of the southeast, the largest number of universities are along the east coast around Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
The Australian Federal Government ensures the quality of Australian universities through the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) and the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). AUQA monitors the quality of each university’s teaching, learning, administration and research. In Australia, universities are established by government legislation, and courses offered to international students must be accredited and approved, and listed under CRICOS.
The Australian Council of Professors and Heads of Information Systems (ACPHIS) is the peak body established to represent Australian information systems academics in matters of national and international importance. It grew from informal meetings at the national IS conference (ACIS) from 1995 and was formalised in 1997. ACPHIS provides a forum for discussion and debate on issues relating to the development of information systems as a discipline in Australian universities, and acts as a mechanism for greater collaboration between information systems schools and departments. Since its inception it has conducted annual workshops, commissioned reports and collaborated with other organisations, such as ACS, on issues important to the study of information systems.
Australia is the third most popular study destination in the English-speaking world, with more than 200,000 international students in Australian institutions across all education sectors - why not become one of them and study information systems in Australia?
Written by Professor Mark Toleman (2011)
Australian Council of Professors and Heads of Information Systems (ACPHIS)