The University of Hull has been awarded £550,000 of funding to launch an innovative postgraduate conversion course to tackle the UK shortage of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science specialists.
The new programme is aimed at graduates from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and non-STEM subjects, who want to boost their digital skills and pursue a career in a rapidly-growing sector of the jobs market.
The programme aims to target graduates from backgrounds often underrepresented in these industries, particularly female, disabled and black students. It will also be open to people returning to study after a period of employment and looking to upskill.
Professor Andrew Heyes, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Hull, said: “Data is probably the 21st century’s most valuable commodity. Understanding how to analyse, validate and interpret it to inform decision making are key skills in just about every walk of life.
“These skills are currently in short supply and that’s where our new MSc programme comes in. Working with a range of local industry partners we aim to train a generation of AI and data savvy graduates to help industry in our region and beyond thrive.
“Our programme recognises how interdisciplinary the field and its applications are and is tailored so that graduates from a wide range of STEM, and non-STEM, disciplines can succeed to acquire skills necessary for a rewarding career.”
The University’s funding will be spread over three years and includes 15 scholarships per year, worth £10,000 each.
AI is technology which enables a computer to think or act in a more ‘human’ way, and is being used to improve everything from healthcare to transport.
The Government’s Digital Strategy predicts that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require some element of digital skills.
The University is working with a range of regional partners, including: Humber Outreach Partnership; Wren Kitchens; Spencer Group; J.R Rix & Sons; KCOM; The Deep; Lampada Digital Solutions; Optalysys and C4DI to develop and deliver the curriculum and offer internships with real-world business projects.
The programme will teach skills relevant to a wide range of industries, including medicine, transport, social sciences, biosciences and sports businesses and will be delivered through, digital and data science skills training; bespoke taught modules and an academic dissertation project or industrial placement or internship.
Hull is one of 18 universities to be awarded funding following a competitive bidding process run by the Office for Students (OfS) on behalf of Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI).
In total, £13 million of funding will be provided over a three-year period, of which £10 million will be used for scholarships to support students from under-represented groups.
The start date for the programmes have yet to be confirmed, and the OfS is working with universities to determine what can be reasonably achieved due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This may include agreeing revised timescales or changes to planned activities.
Full details about the programme and how to apply will be released shortly.
[Phil Winter – University of Hull]