Eighteen UK universities - from Birmingham and Newcastle to Sussex and Suffolk - have been handed £13 million in funding to launch postgraduate conversion courses in artificial intelligence and data science in a drive to increase the number of graduates embracing up the disciplines over the next three years.
The move follows a competitive bidding process run by the Office for Students to deliver the funding on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Office for Artificial Intelligence.
The courses are the latest stage of the Government’s support for strengthening the UK’s AI talent pipeline and a part of the £1 billion AI Sector Deal.
Through specialist teaching and paid work placements, the courses will allow graduates from both science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and 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 programme aims to target graduates from backgrounds often underrepresented in these industries, particularly female, disabled and black students, with £10 million of the funding to support these groups.
While funding awards to institutions have now been confirmed, 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.
Start dates for the conversion courses are to be confirmed.
The data science and AI courses developed by these universities will teach skills relevant to a wide range of industries, including medicine, transport, social sciences, biosciences and sports business.