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Project rationale

The development of information and communications technology (ICT) skills has been recognized as a key priority in supporting the economic progression of both Palestine and Jordan. Studies show that ICT sector success depends greatly on those human resources who continuously grow the range of products and services the sector provides to businesses, government and households. Such growth is essential to the economy of both Palestine and Jordan. It is estimated that the ICT sector alone contributes over 8% to GDP and employs 3% of the total workforce across both countries. A key concern is ensuring university curricula remain in-step with market needs. Thus curricula require regular upgrading in order to respond to international trends. One of the ICT areas with most growth potential, and one that requires particular multidisciplinary skills, is Forensic Computing and Digital Criminology. Most of the current academic programmes both in computing and in law in the region are oriented toward single discipline training and fail to train students to work across the joint legal/computing domains. The shortage of graduates skilled in these domains has negatively impacted uptake, adoption and awareness of the field of Digital Criminology. The result has been a significant negative impact on the security of local information systems and their infrastructure, which are continuously faced with the threat of cybercrime and associated financial risks. We believe that introducing such multidisciplinary training is essential to overcoming the current knowledge gap/lack of security expertise. Trained graduates will be critical to improving the efficacy and standing of both law and ICT sectors, at private and governmental levels, ultimately improving both the economy as well as the legislation associated with Digital Criminology.

Information systems continue to play a critical role across the products, services, operations and management of organizations. The effective and efficient use of ICT is an important element in achieving and maintaining competitive advantage for business organizations and excellence-in-service for government and non-profit organizations. Advances in infrastructure, based on internet, cloud and Internet-of-Things (IoT), is driving the development of new information systems models. Such infrastructure while offering many advantages, such as extensibility and flexibility, is subject to various information security risks and cybercrime. Information security and forensic computing skills are thus vital in both information systems' developers and users. Therefore, the need for well-educated professionals in the forensic computing field is essential for the success and security of the ICT industry. However, education systems in Palestine and Jordan, and potentially other developing countries, currently lack sufficient training in information security, cybercrime and digital criminology in their curricula. One of the key reasons for slow adoption of security best practices is the lack of expertise and training in forensic computing methods and techniques at university degree level. Our Forensics Computing pathway programme (FORC) aims to equip trainers and students with the required skills across both technological and legal dimensions. Forensic computing is the systematic inspection and analysis of a computer or other digital system for criminal investigation and misuse. Students in their undergraduate degree must develop the technical and legal skills required to carry out practical forensic investigation and secure evidence for legal or commercial use.