The scholarships were made possible thanks to more than £8m of funding provided by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and Office for Artificial Intelligence, which has been awarded by the Office for Students (OfS) to 30 universities across England.
This is part of a wider initiative led by the OfS which began in 2019 to increase diversity and address digital skills gaps in the AI and Data Science workforce. As part of this, Loughborough University launched its MSc Data Science programme in 2020/21 and has since awarded over 63 scholarships in the last three years to students from underrepresented groups. 98% of these students graduated, one of which has recently been recognised as one of the UK’s most outstanding African-Caribbean students by Future Leaders for his engagement in a variety of activities, including JP Morgan’s ‘Code for Good’ hackathon.
Loughborough is offering scholarships for the following programmes:
The programmes have been designed in a way that can be delivered for full-time and part-time delivery to support students with professional or personal commitments, and aim to be structured in a way that meets the learning needs of a diverse group of people, including those from non-STEM backgrounds.
The scholarships will be granted in the 2023/24 academic year to UK students who are members of underrepresented groups. Individuals who fall under one or more of the following categories will be prioritised for the scheme:
Students with a disability
Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds (Index of Multiple Disadvantage quintiles 1 and 2, low household income)
Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings commented: “Data analytics and AI are two of the most important and exciting fields of technological development of our generation, with far-reaching potential to solve present day problems and to transform the world around us.
“This funding will support our four programmes which offer a comprehensive and diverse portfolio for learners looking to convert to or gain new skills in Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. Moreover, it also supports one of the key strategic themes of our strategy, Vibrant and Inclusive Communities, which aims to address the inequalities faced by underrepresented groups in our community.”
John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said: “This funding provides opportunities for students underrepresented in these industries to achieve their career aspirations. This funding builds on the successes of the programme’s recent students, and provides the UK’s data science and AI sector with a wider pool of highly skilled graduates.
“Following a competitive bidding process, we are investing an initial £8.1 million in 30 universities to deliver high-quality conversion courses that lead to positive outcomes for students. This funding will enhance the relationships established between universities and employers that are vital for the success of this industry.
“Universities have responded to the various needs of these students, such as offering flexible learning for mature students and for those with caring responsibilities. Early evidence suggests students from the priority groups are successfully completing their courses and connecting with employers. We encourage more employers to get involved to nurture this talent and help train the digital workforce of tomorrow.”