Loughborough expands access to AI and data science programmes with half a million pounds funding boost

Digital scholarship

Loughborough University has been awarded almost £0.5 million to support students looking to retrain or upskill in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, which will address a shortage of specialists in the UK, whilst also improving diversity in the sector.

The funding is being provided by the Office for Students (OfS), after they confirmed that a further £8.1 million was being made available for scholarships to postgraduate conversion courses in these rapidly growing areas.

The initiative aims to boost the number of graduates in the UK and support individuals currently working outside of the sector, specifically groups that are  under-represented - including women, Black students, students registered disabled, and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Scholarships of up to £10,000 are available to students applying to study on one of four postgraduate programmes at the University:

Full-time and part-time delivery options are available to support students with professional or personal commitments, and the course content is structured to meet the learning needs of a diverse group of people, including those from non-STEM backgrounds.

This is the third grant from the OfS for Loughborough’s postgraduate conversion courses, after the University was initially awarded £630,000 in April 2020 to develop the courses and provide scholarships, and then a further £0.5 million in 2023 for more scholarships. 

The University was also honoured to be included in a partnership with the OfS and VISA, which saw the world leader in digital payments sponsoring two additional £10,000 scholarships.

Industry partnerships like this are helping the University to support students, by ensuring they are developing the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for and offering opportunities to gain hands-on experience through placements and micro-internships.     

The government initiative to bridge the skills gap and improve diversity within AI and data science launched in 2020 and has allocated over £18 million for scholarships since then.

Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience commented: “Our innovative Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Masters courses are ideal for anyone looking to retrain or upskill. They provide our students with the digital skills needed to meet the UK’s growing demand for AI expertise. We are also investing in new equipment and facilities through our DIGILabs project, including hologram technology, to ensure that our graduates are familiar with the latest technologies and inspired by new ways of learning and working.

“It is vital that opportunities to study and work in this emerging field are open to everyone and we are very grateful to the Office for Students for their continued support in enabling us to do this.”

Loughborough University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings commented: “This funding will give students the opportunity to convert to or gain new skills in one of the most exciting and important fields of technological development of our generation, by studying on one of our four comprehensive and diverse programmes.

“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 for the Office for Students (OfS), said: “We are delighted to support a wide range of innovative courses at various universities and colleges, including Loughborough. This funding provides scholarship opportunities for students underrepresented in the AI and data science industries to achieve their career aspirations.

“Evidence shows many of these students had previously studied subjects unrelated to AI or data science and would recommend the courses to others in a similar position. These scholarships provide students with support to develop their skills and careers, and in turn provide the industry with a new, diverse wave of talent to invest in.”

Find out more about the Digital Student Scholarships.