School placements team reach the century

The School of Computing placements team are pleased to announce 100 students have secured industry placements for the next academic year. The Placement Officers, Sian Robson and Katie Van Sanden are delighted to reach the century milestone again this year and hope to see this number rise over the next few months.

The students will undertake a range of roles from business analysts and project-management to web-development, software/application development, software engineering and IT/networks support, in a mix of companies including IBM, SKY, BT and Morgan Stanley.

All undergraduate and most Master’s students in the School of Computing have the option of adding an industrial placement to their degree programme and many placement students go on to start their graduate careers at their placement organisation.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

School welcomes Gold Award in Teaching Excellence

The University of Kent has been awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Head of School, Professor Richard Jones, said: ‘I am delighted that this award recognises the excellent teaching within the University, and within the School of Computing.

‘In particular, I am pleased that the wonderful employment prospects for Kent students have been given recognition. We have played an active part in this with the School’s hugely successful industrial placement programme and innovative Year in Computing.

‘This award is a testament to the dedication of our academic staff and the professional services team who support our students and is well deserved.’

The TEF Panel judged that Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

A total of 295 higher education providers took part in the TEF. In the assessment, 59 providers were rated gold.

Kent’s Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow was the first to receive the news. She said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that the strength of our teaching and our longstanding commitment to academic excellence has been acknowledged in this way. The hard work and dedication of our staff and students continues to ensure that the University of Kent has some of the best teaching in the country. I would like to thank all those who have made this possible.’

The TEF Panel reported that Kent ‘students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes. Very high proportions of students from all backgrounds continue with their studies and then progress to employment, notably exceeding the provider benchmarks. The metrics indicate very high levels of student satisfaction with teaching, academic support and assessment and feedback.’

The Panel considered all the information in Kent’s submission in relation to the TEF criteria and stated that its judgement reflects, in particular, evidence of:

  • an outstanding Student Success Project dedicated to closing the attainment gap for students with protected characteristics
  • an institutional culture which facilitates, values and rewards teaching and which is embedded across the institution
  • the provision of a wide range of co-curricular opportunitiesfor students to enhance their skills
  • physical and digital learning resources of the highest quality
  • a flexible and personalised approach to academic support for students which is underpinned by a college system and enhanced through student peer mentoring and an academic adviser scheme
  • a systematic approach to embedding employability in the curriculum and providing employment placements for large numbers of students which, together, enable them to acquire the knowledge, skills and understanding that are most highly valued by employers

Implemented by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the TEF aims to recognise, reward and improve excellent learning and teaching at higher education providers across the UK. It also aims to provide students with clear information about where teaching quality is best and where students have achieved the best outcomes.

The awards are decided by an independent TEF Panel of experts, including academics, students and employer representatives.



Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reducing identity theft with verifiable credentials – Think Kent video

As part of the University of Kent Think Kent series – a collection of YouTube videos celebrating research with international impact at the University – Professor David Chadwick explores why identity theft is so easy to enact today over the Internet, and how it can be prevented by utilising the latest research in verifiable credentials.

Verifiable credentials can prove your entitlements to an Internet service by utilising strong cryptographic techniques, without using a username and password. This technology is becoming available in the latest smart phones and web browsers. David illustrates the concepts with a demonstration that has been built by his colleagues at the University of Toulouse, France.

David W Chadwick, BSc, PhD is Professor of Information Systems Security at the University of Kent. He has published widely, with over 140 publications in international journals, conferences and workshops.

David’s research is in identity management, policy based authorisation, privacy protection, the management of trust, cloud security and Internet security in general. He has worked with many external organisations during his career, including the NHS, banks, local authorities and multinational organisations, in order to help them apply the latest security techniques to protect their organisations.

Posted in News, opinion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Double win at Kent Student Awards for Computer Science student

Final year student Aaron Cross was a double winner at the Kent Student Awards on Friday 5 May.

Aaron, who is studying Computer Science (Networks) with a Year in Industry, won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Media and Communications. It was awarded to him ‘for consistently providing an amazing service behind the scenes as CSR’s (Canterbury Student Radio) Technical Manager and Kent Union’s Tech President.’

He also scooped the Chancellor’s Employability Points Award ‘for being the ‘lifeblood of CSR’ and being the predominant factor in the radio station’s continued growth and success.’

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

FA promotion for Kent Computing student

George Lowe, a second-year Computing and Business Administration with a Year in Industry student, has had an end of season promotion from the Football Association.

George has a Kent Sport scholarship and is the first and only referee scholar. The scholarship scheme has given him access to coached sessions to help develop him to perform better in the fitness aspects of refereeing.

He has spent this season refereeing for teams such as Ramsgate U21, Sutton Athletic and Whitstable Town as a referee and assistant referee in the Southern Counties East and Ryman leagues whilst also continuing with his studies. Next season he will move to level 4 where he will referee matches against teams such as Ashford United, Canterbury City, Herne Bay and Margate.

George said: ‘I hope this is the start of a successful career in refereeing with my main goal in mind of reaching the Football League whilst also working somewhere in technology after my studies. Having officiated in fixtures involving Gillingham First Team and the development squads of Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham in England as well as the likes of Valencia, Seville, Chivas and Real Betis at development tournaments abroad, refereeing has really opened my eyes to the opportunities available and what you can achieve if you work hard both on and off the pitch.

‘I decided six years ago to stop my playing career to switch to refereeing to stay involved in the game after playing for unsuccessful teams. Looking at what I have achieved in this time, this was certainly the right decision and I look forward to what the coming years have in store for me.’

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Complete University Guide 2018 – School’s excellent research recognised

The excellent research at the School of Computing has been recognised with a high position in the Complete University Guide 2018.

The league table assessed 107 computer science departments in the UK across a range of measures.

The University of Kent scored highly in research intensity, a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the University. Kent came 8th nationally and 1st in the south east.

The School also was recognised for the high employment rates of its graduates coming 16th nationally for graduate prospects and 4th in the south east.

Head of School, Professor Richard Jones said: ‘the league table positions support the ambitious research culture in the School. We have very talented research staff and expect to make more good appointments in the near future which will further strengthen the team.’



Posted in News, research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dan, Dan, Marathon Man!

Student Experience Manager, Daniel Clark will be running the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday 2 April. He is running in aid of two charities that have a special meaning for him and his family; The Christie Hospital in Manchester and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Dan said: ‘The Christie is one of the world’s leading cancer treatment and research centres and, it’s where my dad has received treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My dad was diagnosed with NHL in 1996 and 21 years later he continues to live a happy and healthy life, all thanks to the Christie.  The care, compassion, professionalism and expertise of those that work at the Christie are things that my family and I will be eternally grateful for.’

Dans fundraising will also go towards Macmillan Cancer Support, which has provided care during his father-in-law’s leukaemia treatment.

This will be Dan’s third marathon, having previously run the London and Bournemouth marathons in 2015. ‘I try to do something every couple of years. Logistically it is a big thing to build up to and I don’t think I could face losing my toenails every year!’

If you would like to sponsor Dan, please visit his fundraising page.

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Students shortlisted for Go Abroad awards

Congratulations to Oscar Kent-Plummer and Jason Marable who have been shortlisted for the University’s Go Abroad awards. The awards celebrate the efforts and achievements of students who have undertaken a study or work placement abroad.

Both Oscar and Jason are final year undergraduates on the Computer Science with Year in Industry programme. Oscar has been shortlisted for best use of social media whilst on placement in HSBC, Hong Kong. Jason has been nominated for best school ambassador, during his time in Cisco, San Jose, USA.

We wish them the best of luck for the awards on Thursday 30 March.


Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Vacancies in the School of Computing

We are advertising for two new members of the School’s administration team.

The Employability Coordinator is a new post designed to support our successful marketing and industrial placement teams.  The post holder will be expected to work autonomously and with a high level of responsibility showing flexibility and competence in answering queries, meeting changing priorities and working under tight deadlines. Applicants should apply by Sunday 2 April.

The Taught Postgraduate Student Support Assistant will provide dedicated support to all Taught Postgraduate (Master’s) students in the School of Computing throughout their journey with us, from application to graduation. The successful candidate will be a key member of the School’s Student Administration Team which supports the delivery of excellent support to students at all levels in the School, and to academic colleagues. Apply by Sunday 26 March

The School of Computing is a welcoming and diverse environment, keen to enhance a balanced, inclusive and diverse nature of the community, building on the success of teaching, research and innovation within the School.


Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Your brain is unique – here’s how it could be used as the ultimate security password

Palaniappan Ramaswamy, University of Kent

Biometrics – technology that can recognise individuals based on physical and behavioural traits such as their faces, voices or fingerprints – are becoming increasingly important to combat financial fraud and security threats. This is because traditional approaches, such as those based on PIN numbers or passwords, are proving too easily compromised. For example, Barclays has introduced TouchID, whereby customers can log onto internet banking using fingerprint scanners on mobile phones. The Conversation

However, this is not foolproof either – it is possible to forge such biometrics. Fingers can after all be chopped off and placed by impostors to gain fraudulent access. It has also been shown that prints lifted from glass using cellophane tape can be used with gelatine to create fake prints. So there is a real need to come up with more advanced biometrics that are difficult or impossible to forge. And a promising alternative is the brain.

Emerging biometric technology based on the electrical activity of the brain have indeed shown potential to be fraud resistant. Over the years, a number of research studies have found that “brainprints” (readings of how the brain reacts to certain words or tasks) are unique to individuals as each person’s brain is wired to think differently. In fact, the brain can be used to identify someone from a pool of 102 users with more than 98% accuracy at the moment, which is very close to that of fingerprints (99.8% accuracy).

More recently, this has been confirmed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity by tracking changes in blood flow. A study using fMRI data from the Human Connectome Project was able to recognise individuals with up to 99% accuracy when performing certain mental tasks such as relaxing, listening to a story, computing maths, looking at emotional faces or imagining moving parts of their body.

Fingerprints are commonly used.

However, the cost and difficulty of using fMRI (you have to lie very still in the scanner for a fairly long time) means it is clearly not practical for everyday biometric authentication. For that reason, researchers have instead looked at electroencephalography (EEG), which uses electrodes to track and record brain-wave patterns. But this is also cumbersome – who would be willing to wear a cap of gel-based electrodes just to log in to their computer? Hence, the technology has remained in the realm of science fiction for some time.

Promising alternatives

Recently, technological advances in recording EEG from the ear using electrodes placed on the surface of standard earphones have provided a solution – no gel needed. It is not easy though – EEG is very “noisy” since the brain is always actively processing different information. But advanced signal-processing approaches have recently been able to reduce the noisy components, albeit this typically requires powerful computing. This is, however, becoming less of a problem now that mobile-phone processing power is growing rapidly – it should in theory be possible to perform all the required processing on a smart phone.

So why aren’t brainprints everywhere already? One downside is that it can’t be used by twins – they have near-identical EEG patterns. But the main problem is the lack of stability of brainprints over time.

It seems that it is not enough to just have an EEG done once – occasional re-enrolment (say, monthly) is necessary. This is because the brain connections exhibit plastic behaviour (they change with experience) and thought processes in the brain change over time. However, in ongoing work at the University of Kent, we have shown that specific tones (which can be played using earphones) can be used to minimise these changes. It is not yet clear exactly how these tones affect the brain but we speculate that they may allow the brain to calm down, allowing more focused activity.

Two-factor authentication is now a norm for many banking transactions, for example using a password and an additional code sent to the phone. Soon, banks in New York may have to comply with multi-factor authentication protocol proposed by the New York State Department of Financial Services, whereby at least three authentication mechanisms are used for enhanced security by personnel accessing internal systems with privileged access or to support functions including remote access.

While fingerprints and voice recognition are possibilities, thought-based biometric technology is more apt to be used as an add-on to meet this new cybersecurity regulation. The brain biometric template could even be updated for a different mental activity should there be a security breach on the stored template (unlike a fingerprint biometric which remains for life and cannot be replaced once compromised).

Brainprints can also be used to generate passwords that can replace conventional alphanumeric passwords or PINs in ATM machines to withdraw cash. For example, rather than keying in the PIN, one would connect earphones and be shown a series of PIN numbers on the ATM screen. Brain patterns would change when the correct PIN number showed up – activating the transaction. By doing so, one does not have to worry about others looking over the shoulder to steal the PIN. Moreover, under coerced situations, brainprints will not work due to the stress – making them even more fraud resistant.

Given that it is difficult to copy another person’s exact thought process, the technology is certainly advantageous. Considering the advancement in the technology, we will likely see uptake of biometric applications based on brainprints soon – especially as part of multi-factor system for enhanced authentication. So don’t be surprised to see EEG earphones appearing in your post from the bank shortly.

Palaniappan Ramaswamy, Reader in Signal Analysis, University of Kent

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Posted in News, opinion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment