Keele awarded funding to develop artificial intelligence and data science course

Keele University has been named as one of only eighteen successful institutions in the UK to receive funding from the Office for Students (OfS) to launch a postgraduate conversion course specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science.

The OfS launched the competition as an opportunity to develop and implement new and innovative 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.

The OfS has 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.

Through specialist teaching and paid work placements, the conversion courses will allow graduates from both STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and non-STEM subjects to significantly boost their digital skills – helping to address the shortage of AI and data specialists joining the UK workforce. The courses will teach skills relevant to a wide range of industries, including medicine, transport, social sciences, biosciences and sports business.

The course is being designed in collaboration with industry partners and offers scholarships of £10,000 for underrepresented groups in this field. Students will have the opportunity to do work placements which will include an ambassador scheme where students can be placed within a local school, college or relevant business to develop their skills and to encourage underrepresented groups to study in AI and data science.

Dr Ed de Quincey, Director of Education at Keele’s School of Computing and Maths, said: “We are really excited about building on our existing internationally recognised research in multidisciplinary AI and data analytics to create a distinctive and inclusive course applied across a range of disciplines such as computer science, mathematics, medicine, humanities, geography, social sciences, and biosciences. We are particularly proud of the fact that we are co-designing the course with local employers and around the needs of students from a wide variety of backgrounds, enabling underrepresented students who might not necessarily have considered a career in AI and data science with scholarships of £10,000.”

Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Keele University, said: “We are delighted Keele University has been one of the 18 successful universities awarded funding by the OfS to offer these new postgraduate conversion courses, which will offer important skills that will address the shortage of AI and data specialists in the UK. These courses will also be of great importance to the local economy and businesses in the region. We are excited to bring together students from diverse backgrounds with different skill sets, and to work with industry partners to ensure our students have real life experience giving them the best start in their careers.”

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

The OfS will work with universities to determine what can be reasonably achieved due to the coronavirus outbreak. This may include agreeing revised timescales or changes to planned activities. This approach recognises that providers and individual projects are likely to be affected in different ways during this period.