Loughborough expands AI and data science programme scholarships for underrepresented students thanks to new partnership with Visa and the Office for Students

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The University is delighted to announce that Visa, a world leader in digital payments, has partnered with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to co-fund data science and artificial intelligence (AI) scholarships for underrepresented students in postgraduate conversion courses based at Loughborough and the University of Leeds.

This collaboration comes as part of the UK Government's strategic AI skills scheme, launched by DSIT, and implemented by the Office for Students (OfS). The scheme is aimed at tackling the shortage of skilled technology professionals and helping the UK prepare for a sustained demand for digital expertise in the long term. 

The programme will fund data science and AI scholarships for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year. Working closely with the University, Visa will contribute two £10,000 industry-sponsored scholarships in addition to the 50 scholarships that are being funded by DSIT through the broader programme. Together this will enable a total of 52 underrepresented students to complete an AI or Data Science postgraduate degree at Loughborough and enter the workforce.  

This new partnership is designed to enable more women, Black students, students with disabilities and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to enter the technology sector, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed while also benefitting the wider UK economy.  

Visa has long been committed to recognising the power of diversity of thought, valuing every individual for their unique background, experiences, and view of the world. Alongside investing in a workplace that encourages diverse perspectives, Visa has embedded inclusion and diversity as a business imperative, impacting not just its workforce but the products it designs and the businesses it serves. Visa was an early adopter of AI technology and has been using it to provide better user outcomes for 30 years.

This new partnership supports and aligns with the University’s strategic ambitions for Equity, diversity and inclusion as well as our research and innovation endeavours in the area of AI and cognitive technologies. 

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience Professor Rachel Thomson said: “This exciting new partnership with VISA will support students from diverse backgrounds to gain new skills in the areas of Digital FinanceCyber Security and Data Analytics whilst also providing them with experiences to put these skills and knowledge into practice.  

“We are committed to creating opportunities for all students – from diverse backgrounds and with different skill sets, enabling everyone to reach their maximum potential and succeed in their future careers. We are very grateful to Visa and the Office for Students for their support of our cutting-edge Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Masters courses.” 

Professor Nick Jennings, Loughborough University’s Vice-Chancellor added: “We are delighted to work with Visa and DSIT on this new scholarship programme. AI is a huge growth area, and it is vital that opportunities in this field are open to everyone. These scholarships will enable people from underrepresented groups and backgrounds to learn the digital skills needed to meet the UK’s growing demand for AI expertise.” 

Mandy Lamb, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, at Visa commented: “Visa has harnessed the power of AI to fight fraud for over 30 years now. We believe that it can fundamentally transform financial services for the better, improving the financial lives and wellbeing of individuals, businesses, and the UK economy. As a result, it’s of paramount importance that we do all we can to nurture and develop skills and talent across topics such as coding, programming, and practical AI data science.”