Former university lecturers launch an alternative to higher education

December 14, 2020
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Former university lecturers Dr. Andrea Cullen and Lorna Armitage created one of UK’s first Cyber Security master’s degrees back in 2004. Now, they’re launching a revolutionary alternative.

Millions of students and teachers have been left dissatisfied during the Covid-19 pandemic, as academic institutions struggle to remodel traditional education online.

After realising that online learning needs drastic improvement, and being professionally aware of the growing skills gap in cyber security, Dr. Andrea Cullen and Lorna Armitage felt inspired to look for a solution.

Their goal? To co-found an innovative and affordable alternative to higher education, which would simultaneously re-skill hundreds of adults into tech roles.

What is the alternative?

Their alternative is CAPSLOCK: a new breed of educational organisation which will deliver cutting-edge tech education entirely online. Their focus is to allow adults to re-skill, kick-starting new careers is some of the most lucrative job sectors. Better yet, there are no up-front costs for those who want to enrol… more on that in a minute.

Their inaugural course kicks off in February 2021, with backing from employers such as Lloyds Bank, Dell, BAE, and BT. The course will focus on re-training people into cyber security professionals via a rigorous and revolutionary curriculum. It will feature over 400 hours of live, instructor-led tuition in a virtual classroom, over a period of either 16 weeks (full time) or 26 weeks (part time). The idea is to combine the rigor of a traditional degree with the speed and practicality of a bootcamp, whilst tackling one of the UKs most urgent skills gaps.

Learners will graduate with vital cyber security skills in as little at 4 months, enabling them to find in-demand cyber jobs in the UK. They will also have the option to gain industry recognised cyber qualifications to further boost their employability.

What’s so special about the CAPSLOCK curriculum?

Andrea and Lorna have built the CAPSLOCK curriculum from scratch, using the most effective learning techniques they’ve encountered:

Team Based Learning (TBL) – Team based learning is exactly what it sounds like: flipping the traditional ‘lecturers vs students’ dynamic on its head, and more closely resembling a co-operative seminar. Rather than relying on just listening to absorb knowledge (which has a retention percentage of around 5%), students proactively engage in discussions and peer-to-peer teaching (with retention percentages of up to 95%). In essence, Team Based Learning ensures deeper learning, far greater levels of retention, and consistent engagement.

Problem Based Learning (PBL) – Problem Based Learning is another inversion of the educational norm. Traditionally, teachers tell students what they need to know first. The students then attempt to memorise this knowledge, and finally solve theoretical problems related to it. In contrast, PBL begins with looking at realistic, industry-relevant problems, that learners would likely encounter in their future cyber careers. The knowledge needed to solve these problems is then outlined, and finally this knowledge is learned and applied to solve the problem, using simulation tools and hands-on labs. This allows learners to get to grips with the practicalities of being a cyber security professional.

Both TBL and PBL are proven learner-centric approaches, which prioritise deep learning and real world problem solving. Combined, they create an immersive learning methodology which encourages engagement, exploration, innovation, and confidence. These attributes are key to employability. This ground-breaking model has never been delivered entirely online before, and CAPSLOCK have secured government funding to make it a reality.

Andrea and Lorna are also the Lead Tutors for CAPSLOCK, so will be conducting the majority of the teaching.

What does it cost?

In terms of cost, CAPSLOCK have broken with tradition and removed all upfront costs. They are pioneering the Income Share Agreement model, where learners pay back a small percentage of their income once they land a job. Through ISAs, CAPSLOCK aim to support people who need to re-skill but can’t afford huge fees or loan debt.

It’s also very time efficient, with the cyber course taking just 16 or 26 weeks. This makes it ideal for people who can’t afford to spend a long time retraining, for example, by spending at least three years studying at university.

How can you apply to CAPSLOCK?

Currently over 400 people have applied to CAPSLOCK. Do you want to join them?

Applying is quick and easy at

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