With the world fast embracing the digital revolution, the importance of teaching information technology (IT) has become paramount for any country to get a competitive edge in the 21st century. In a country like Nepal too, the significance of IT education has grown noticeably over the past decade as people have realised the potential and opportunities in the digital sphere, thanks to the efforts of educational institutions like Softwarica College of IT & E-commerce.
One of the pioneering IT colleges in the country, Softwarica has been offering various programmes to Nepali students, preparing an industry-ready workforce that can compete in the global arena. Established in 2010, the college has crossed significant milestones in this short period. Located in Gyaneswor, Kathmandu, the college has become popular among students who aspire to achieve British accreditations. Collaborating with the reputed UK-based Coventry University, Softwarica has been running undergraduate IT programmes including BSc (Hons) Computing and BSc (Hons) Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity. Coventry University is one of the UK’s leading educational institutions; it ranked 15th in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2020.
Bigyan Shrestha, chairman of Softwarica College of IT & E-commerce recalls the inception of the college. “Back in 2010 when Softwarica was established, not many preferred to study IT in Nepal as the craze for management studies was higher among the students. Back then there weren’t any proper IT colleges in the country and many Nepali students had to go to places like Bangalore to study. Analysing such a situation, we started Softwarica to teach advanced IT courses in Nepal,” he says. According to Shrestha, the number of Nepali students going abroad for IT-related courses has declined in recent years.
“We are happy that we have also contributed to change the scenario by offering world-class programmes collaborating with Coventry University. Softwarica is continuously working to introduce more advanced IT courses in Nepal,” he adds. The college has been introducing programmes assessing the need in the IT sector. Shrestha says that a few years back they realised there was a need to develop human resources in the area of cybersecurity. Softwarica then introduced a highly specialised degree on ‘Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity’ which is the first of its kind in Nepal,” he shares, adding, “After a year from now, our graduates will be working in the field of cybersecurity.”
Softwarica is a core technology college offering international degrees in IT awarded by Coventry University which has received five QS Stars, a prestigious university ratings and rankings published annually, in 2019 and 2020. According to Shrestha, the college focuses on a practical approach to teaching and prioritises the real-life skills of graduates. “It is essential because you need to have real-life skills to build a rewarding career. For this reason, classes are held on personality development, presentation skills, and public speaking skills. This combination of both academic and real-life skills would thus help students towards their holistic development,” mentions Shrestha.
To instill real-life work experience right after the completion of the first year of their studies, students are provided with internship opportunities at renowned companies in Nepal. Similarly, after the completion of the second year, students will get placements at different companies in Nepal and abroad in positions according to their skill levels. Hence, by the time a student graduates, he/she would have more than one year of real-time work experience facilitating them to seek positions in the middle level in companies both at home and abroad. The fact that more than 2,000 Softwarica graduates are currently working in various companies across the globe including tech giants Google, Facebook and Microsoft is a testimony to the quality of the education provided by the college.
With state-of-the-art computer labs, standardised cybersecurity, advanced research lab, well equipped technical and networking labs, a library with an exhaustive collection of books on IT and business, local and international experts on the teaching faculty, the college is truly an ideal place for students to hone their skills and gain an internationally recognised qualification.
The college is the academic partner of Cisco and EC-Council and offers Cisco certified courses, certified ethical hacking courses, IBM courses, Fortnite academy, among others. Likewise, it also possesses a state of the art innovative hub centre, the first of its kind in Nepal, encouraging students to innovate. “We offer Rs 500,000 worth of funding to our students for innovative projects. Besides, we also conduct workshops on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Likewise, drones and 3D printing have also been integrated into academic learning,” informs Shrestha.
Selected scholars also get chance to go to the UK for a field visit to Coventry University with the college paying the entire expenditure for the 10-day trip. “The students will visit the university, participate in various lecture classes and workshops there. Besides, an observation tour to major tourist destinations in the UK like the London Eye, Clock Tower Bridge and the London Museum will also be organised,” says Shrestha. Students representing the college in various competitions who have a curious mind and excellent presentation and interpersonal skills with a minimum of 90 percent attendance and diligence in each module are selected for the tour.
Softwarica also provides merit-based scholarships to deserving students as well as part and full-time job opportunities in the college and mentorship and individual student support. The students will also have direct networking with IT experts through the industry visit programmes. Meanwhile, Softwarica graduates with outstanding business ideas also receive support in the form of a seed fund from the college for starting IT and e-commerce startup ventures.
Programmes at Softwarica
The first year of BSc (Hons) Ethical Hacking & Cybersecurity focuses on enabling students from a diverse range of backgrounds to make a solid start on their degree courses and understand fundamental principles. Modules include Intercultural Communication Skills for International Students, Digital Forensics Fundamentals, Introduction to Computer Security, Computer Architecture and Networks, Introduction to Computing and Introduction to Algorithms and Logic and Sets.
Likewise, the BSc (Hons) Computing course focuses on applying computing concepts, such as web technologies and mobile computing systems, with a focus on software development design, as well as usability and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). The course covers Intercultural Communications Skills for International Students, Enterprise Information Systems, Designing for Usability, Computer Architecture, and Networks, Introduction to Computing, Introduction to Algorithms and Logic and Sets.
The college has set up an innovation hub for its students. Shrestha informs that the hub was conceived so that students could focus on research along with their regular studies. Shrestha said that the college provides a grant of up to Rs 500,000 for research purposes. The hub has computers, 3D printers, sensors, robotics equipment, drones and other machineries to suffice the needs of the projects enabling students to pursue their research freely.
Softwarica has plans to introduce new programmes soon. “We are looking to offer various programmes to develop a skilled workforce in different areas of IT which the country needs,” says Shrestha. He informs that the college will soon introduce a bachelor degree programme in artificial intelligence (AI) and a Masters programme in data science.
According to Shrestha, Softwarica’s partner college, Sunway International Business School, is also in the process of introducing a bachelor’s programme in data science and digital marketing which is the first of its kind in Nepal.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for technology integration in almost all domains of work and family life. “E-Commerce is burgeoning in Nepal. The situation even requires government services to be technology-based. In this scenario, the government needs to promote the development of skilled human resources in IT,” opines Shrestha, adding, “Whatever IT educational institutions and companies have achieved so far is mostly by their own effort. Now we need the government’s support for further development in this sector,” he says.