Freevacy launches the Joyce Allen Privacy Champion BCS Scholarship

Published on Jan 25, 2023

To celebrate International Data Protection Day this Saturday (28th Jan), information rights training provider, Freevacy, is offering to pay for twenty lucky course applicants. The successful candidates will study for the Foundation Certificate in Data Protection from the professional body, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Each course normally costs £1095 + VAT.

This fully funded scholarship programme is designed to entice new entrants into the field, providing them with a recognised industry qualification, which could one day lead to a full-time career in privacy.

For organisations, the scheme aims to highlight the advantages of embedding privacy champions within their business, relieving the pressure on core privacy teams.

An industry-wide skills and talent shortage is threatening to hold back the efforts of organisations to deliver on compliance. On the one hand, privacy teams are getting larger. Yet, on the other, organisations are facing increasing challenges to identify, recruit and retain the experienced and qualified data protection practitioners needed to meet today's evolving privacy demands.

On the upside, the benefits of adequately resourced privacy teams support the development of a mature privacy programme. In turn, this enables organisations to experience fewer data breaches and avoid reputational damage while at the same time limiting regulatory oversight and monetary penalties. Furthermore, it allows businesses to use data more broadly, creating a competitive advantage and building consumer and stakeholder trust.

Advantages of the privacy champion approach

The privacy champion approach involves cross-training existing employees in data protection, allowing them to take on additional privacy responsibilities without leaving their roles.

The advantages of operating a decentralised privacy management structure are twofold:

  • Privacy champions, who promote the privacy programme from within their team or department, are better placed to support business owners in meeting data protection responsibilities within the scope of their operations. This additional capacity within the business relieves pressure on compliance teams allowing them to focus on systematic and consistent improvements in privacy programme maturity.
  • Developing a network of privacy champions creates a pool of multi-skilled professionals who, with additional training and development, could make suitable candidates for full-time privacy roles as and when they become available.

Having played a role in the professionalisation of the industry for almost 20 years, Freevacy founder Joyce Allen said: "A new generation of DPOs will start out as privacy champions. Right now, we have an opportunity to reallocate privacy responsibilities into the business functions working with data. There are clear areas of overlap where training staff in data protection can lead to productivity gains, efficiencies and enhanced compliance. Privacy champions play a pivotal role in developing organisational culture and ensuring initiatives such as privacy by design, data minimisation, and DPIAs are deep-rooted."

Having completed her BCS training with Freevacy, Ms Arathoon said: "I decided to enrol on the Foundation in Data Protection certificate due to finding myself at a career crossroads. As a complete novice to GDPR, I was very apprehensive about joining the course. My concerns were soon diminished, the online training was relaxed, and the trainer explained the content in plain English, using everyday examples to put into context and invited an open forum to ask questions that needed further discussion. I never realised data protection could be so interesting and so integral to the service and administrative areas in the industry where I work. The additional reading resources and advice were invaluable when it came to the exam of which, I was delighted to pass!"

About the BCS Foundation Certificate in Data Protection

The BCS held the pilot Certificate in Data Protection exam on 28 January 2000. At the time, the then ISEB certificate was the first industry-recognised professional qualification for individuals with data protection responsibilities. Over the years, thousands of information rights practitioners have relied on the BCS Certificate to advance their careers. In 2014, BCS updated its data protection programme to include foundation and practitioner levels. Initially intended as an entry point for new compliance team members before advancing to the practitioner level certificate, the BCS Foundation Certificate in Data Protection has since been refocused for business-wide adoption. As such, the Foundation Certificate is suitable for anyone with personal information processing responsibilities across IT, Information Security HR, marketing, customer support and other service delivery departments.

Scholarship timings

The Joyce Allen Privacy Champion BCS Scholarship will run throughout 2023. Two places on each public scheduled BCS Foundation Certificate in Data Protection online course will be allocated for scholarship recipients. The first two recipients will be awarded for the pilot, which will include a case study requiring input from the recipient and the recipient's employer.


Applicants must be sponsored by both their department head, and data protection lead to enter. The employer must also provide a commitment not to transfer the recipient into a dedicated compliance role for a minimum of 12 months after completion of the scholarship programme. This allows sufficient time to embed new working practices and measure performance.

The closing date for applications is 31 August 2023. Freevacy will develop a shortlist and award recipients throughout the year up to this date.

How to apply

To be in with a chance of winning the Joyce Allen Privacy Champion BCS Scholarship, email with details of the recipient's name, title and department. You will need to include a short description of why privacy is essential to your role. In addition, applications should provide the telephone numbers, and email addresses of the head of the department and the data protection lead sponsoring the application.

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