Kent has been awarded funding by the Office for Students (OfS) in partnership with the Department for Innovation, Science and Technology (DSIT) to deliver 16 AI and data science scholarships to boost diversity within the technology industry.
The UK currently has a shortage of digital skills which is estimated to cost the UK economy as much as £63 billion a year in potential GDP, and according to the government’s latest Digital Strategy over 90% of all jobs advertised in the UK now require digital skills.
The scholarships programme aims to encourage more women, Black students, disabled students and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds into the technology industry, and to support the government’s priority to invest in AI to encourage innovation in every sector and region.
The 16 scholarships for 2023-24 will be offered to students accepted on the University’s MSc Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) conversion course.
The demand for AI skills is expected to rise by 40% over the next five years, but the UK will struggle to respond to this demand if future workers aren’t equipped with the necessary skills, which could include AI-led roles in sports coaching, architecture, agriculture and fashion, in addition to traditional computing and engineering roles.
Dr Christos Efstratiou, Senior Lecturer in Ubiquitous Computing and Director of Post Graduate Studies for the School of Computing, said: ‘At the School of Computing we have a long experience of offering conversion courses for students who come from any background and are interested in moving into computer science. Our MSc Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) conversion course focuses on how computer science and artificial intelligence can solve complex problems in the world and transform our society.
‘The course enables students from non-computing background, to learn and gain practical experience on a range of Artificial Intelligence areas including Machine Learning and Robotics. We’re excited to offer these scholarships to boost diversity in the sector, and to help prepare more students for successful careers with leading software, technology, and commercial global companies.’
Dr Marek Grzes, Lecturer and ‘Year in Computing’ Course lead at the School of Computing, added: ‘Computer and AI skills are becoming increasingly essential in many industries across the UK. This conversion course allows for students to be skilled in their desired field of study and then also with fundamental computing and AI skills with the MSc conversion course. This course is essential for anyone who does not want to be scared of ChatGPT and wants to see AI as a companion and collaborator instead of a threat. We hope that as more and more students undertake this course, we can start to respond to the urgent need for computer-skilled workers in the UK, and to ensure students are best equipped to excel in their careers – whatever field they might be in.’