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Funding secured to increase diversity in conversion courses

Funding secured to increase diversity in conversion courses

The University of Wolverhampton has been awarded £220,000 to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science postgraduate conversion course scholarships to increase diversity.  

The funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) is being awarded by the Office for Students (OfS) to universities to deliver the AI and data science scholarships. 

In 2019, the OfS launched a funding competition that aimed to increase diversity and address digital skills gaps in the workforce, which supported the government’s priority to invest in AI to encourage innovation in every sector and region. The programme funded up to 1,000 scholarships at 28 universities designed to encourage more women, Global Majority and disabled students to study AI and data science. 

The University of Wolverhampton has so far awarded £670,000 in scholarship funding to students enrolled on Master’s degree data science and Artificial Intelligence courses. This latest round of funding covering the academic year 2023/24 will see a further 22 students receive scholarships and it will take the total funding awarded as part of this project to £890,000.  

Dr Liam Naughton, the project lead at the University, said: “We are delighted to have secured this scholarship funding so that we can continue to support the efforts to tackle under-representation in the AI and data science sectors. This funding will allow students to study these courses who might not otherwise have been in a financial position to do so, offering opportunities to a wider section of our communities.” 

John Blake, director for fair access and participation at the OfS, said: “This funding provides opportunities for students under-represented in these industries to achieve their career aspirations. This funding builds on the successes of the programme’s recent students, and provides the UK’s data science and AI sector with a wider pool of highly skilled graduates. 

“Following a competitive bidding process, we are investing an initial £8.1 million in 30 universities to deliver high quality conversion courses that lead to positive outcomes for students. This funding will enhance the relationships established between universities and employers that are vital for the success of this industry. 

“Universities have responded to the various needs of these students, such as offering flexible learning for mature students and for those with caring responsibilities. Early evidence suggests students from the priority groups are successfully completing their courses and connecting with employers. We encourage more employers to get involved to nurture this talent and help train the digital workforce of tomorrow.” 

Gea Perkins, from Wolverhampton, is now in her final year of studying part-time for a Master’s degree in Data Science, funded by the OfS. Having secured a degree in 2001 in Business Administration and Marketing, Gea returned to studying 20 years later, having worked with data in a variety of roles throughout her career.   

She said: “Throughout much of my employment I have worked with data and could not get away from the fact that I enjoyed this element more than other areas. I have always been intrigued by the way in which data can be derived and analysed. I noticed over the last couple of years that there was an increase and need for more in depth timely data, and data requirements were becoming more complex.    

“When I saw the Data Science conversion course advertised with the University of Wolverhampton, I knew it was an excellent opportunity for me to develop the skills needed to meet the growing demand and gaps in the market. After reading articles about the low uptake of females in this area, I was inspired by those women who have progressed careers in data science, despite the sector mainly being male dominated.   

“I’m studying part-time, I work full-time and I have a family and this is the best option for me.  There’s lots of support from other students from different backgrounds it helps with learning.  I’m learning about a range of things, the background of data science and how companies can make decisions on the wealth of data they have.  This course gives you the tools, data visualisation, machine learning and research methods.   

“At my age I never thought I’d go back to University but there’s lots of support available and the course is fully funded which is a real advantage.” 

Anyone interested in courses being offered should check out the website or register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.   



For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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