Campus - 07.04.2022 - 00:00 

Computer Science studies in St.Gallen: a stepping stone to an entrepreneurial career

In Autumn 2022, the first Computer Science Bachelor’s degree programme will be launched at the University of St.Gallen (HSG). At the same time, the M.Sc. in Computer Science will be launched for the second time. Prospective students can register for the Computer Science programme at the HSG until April 30th, 2022.

7 April 2022. Studying Computer Science at the HSG? What hardly anyone could have imagined a few years ago already became a reality with the start of the Master in Computer Science (MCS) programme in Autumn 2021. Those studying Computer Science at Switzerland's leading business university will also learn what it means to manage a company in a responsible and sustainable way. "We had a good start and are very pleased to be working with the first group of Master's students. The group size is rather small, and this allows for close supervision as well as a personal and informal exchange with the students," says Prof. Dr. Barbara Weber, Dean of the School of Computer Science.

Students in pioneering role

The programme is led by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Handschuh, professor of Data Science and Natural Language Processing at the School of Computer Science. "With us, students can also actively participate in the further development of Computer Science education and set their own priorities. I see the students as culture-shaping pioneers in this field, which is new to the HSG," says Siegfried Handschuh. Ultimately, they are the ones who will shape the reputation of the programme. "Our hope is that at the end of their studies, the students will be better than ourselves," Handschuh adds.

The Computer Science degree programme offers in-depth technical knowledge in the field of Computer Science. Additionally, topics such as business model design, digital innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership form an important part of the degree. "We want to prepare our students with a solid foundation within these fields to be able to succeed in a career as a computer science entrepreneur or manager," says Dean Barbara Weber.

Know-how for challenges in tech and business
Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) students will complete an independent assessment year, different from the assessment year of the University’s B.A. programmes in terms of both content and organization. This provides orientation, connects students with each other, and teaches basic skills for the Computer Science programme, especially in programming and mathematics. After the first two semesters, the students’ knowledge within Computer Science will be further specialized for two years in the Bachelor’s degree programme. The Bachelor's programme in Computer Science is providing a basic education – it is scientifically based and provides students with the knowledge to develop systems from software and hardware analytically, creatively and constructively. As a newly founded programme, it offers modern content, a young faculty and great support in small groups of students. The language of instruction in the B.Sc. is German, with a few courses offered in English.

Master starts with the second cohort
The M.Sc. in Computer Science is taught entirely in English. The students can choose to specialize in Data Science or Software and Systems Engineering. Currently, 23 young people from seven countries are about to finish their first year. The second year of the programme will start in autumn 2022. "Studying computer science at the HSG gives me a sense of infinity, as I can become an expert in different fields. At the HSG, I have met students from other disciplines who also bring different skills and experiences with them. These connections enrich my everyday study life and I find them highly inspiring," describes one of the first students of the Master in Computer Science, Jenestin Anthonipillai.

Conclusion: The HSG offers students a future-oriented Computer Science programme with excellent support. They benefit from a newly developed and modern curriculum, small groups and freedom to experiment in new laboratories. The lively campus culture with more than 100 student clubs and a wide range of offers in university sports also speaks in favour of studying in St.Gallen, which is the second largest IT-hub in Switzerland.

Education initiative to combat shortage of IT specialists

In the long term, about 100 students per year are planned in the Bachelor’s degree programme, and about 70 per year in the Master’s degree programme. In five years, there should consequently be between 500 and 600 Computer Science students on campus at any one time, which would correspond to 10 to 12 percent of all university Computer Science students in Switzerland. "Our biggest goal is to establish Computer Science at the university level in Eastern Switzerland," Siegfried Handschuh summarizes. "Steve Jobs once said 'I want to make a dent in the universe', we are now starting with Eastern Switzerland."

The School of Computer Science and the new Computer Science degree programmes emerged from the cantonal IT education initiative, which was approved by St.Gallen voters in early 2019. The regional IT education initiative is intended to counteract the shortage of skilled workers and promote the business location. To this end, projects are planned at all levels of education  from elementary school to university.

School of Computer Science at the HSG

Currently, twelve professors from five different countries are conducting teaching and research at the School of Computer Science. In total, the School has around 80 employees, the majority of whom are doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. The School is located both at the Rosenbergstrasse 30 and Torstrasse 25.