Loughborough University awarded OfS funding to develop AI and data science conversion courses

Loughborough University has been named as one of eighteen successful recipients of funding from the Office for Students (OfS) to launch conversion courses specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science.

The Office for Students launched the competition to providers in January as an opportunity to develop and implement new and innovative postgraduate conversion courses in these subject areas, as well as boost the number of graduates over the next three years to address the shortage of AI and data specialists in the workforce. 

They have distributed over £3 million to providers to develop the courses, and £10 million worth of funding for scholarships to support students from underrepresented groups – particularly female students, black students and students with disabilities.

The course will be delivered using both the Loughborough and London campuses, and has been designed in partnership with businesses and industry partners to ensure graduates will meet the skillset and demands required by organisations. This collaboration will include incorporating initiatives such as case studies, real datasets to analyse, and work placements for students.

The course will include modules focused not only on fundamental data science, but also design thinking and innovation, data governance and ethics, building data infrastructures and data analysis, with a number of options to allow students to choose a pathway specific to their prior experience and future aspirations.

It will be aimed at individuals from STEM and non-STEM backgrounds, particularly those considering a career change or an opportunity to upskill their existing expertise.

Students will be equipped with both vast knowledge and real-life experiences to be able to work in a wide range of sectors upon graduating, including biosciences, medicine, transport, financial and social sciences.

After the recent announcement of Loughborough’s Para-sport strategy, the course will also aim to increase the number of students with disabilities with skills in data science to broaden their opportunities both within and outside of the sports business sector.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Professor Rachel Thomson commented: “We are delighted to have been awarded funding by the Office for Students to begin offering postgraduate conversion courses specialising in data science and artificial intelligence at Loughborough University, building on our strengths. Led by the School of Science, this new multidisciplinary programme has contributions from across the University, including Maths/Statistics, Computer Science, Engineering and Business.

“It is clear that these skills are of fundamental importance now more than ever before, and will continue to be in the future. We are excited to build on the opportunities and communities around both our Loughborough and London campuses to offer this flexible degree programme, providing greater reach and accessibility to students so we can deliver graduates to businesses in need.

“We have designed the programme content in consultation with industry and business stakeholders, and also involved our undergraduate student body in co-creating its content. We are committed to creating an inclusive atmosphere in which all students – from diverse backgrounds and with different skillsets - are encouraged to reach their maximum potential and succeed in their future careers.”

The new programme at Loughborough is due to commence in Autumn 2020.