Coventry University leads a consortium that will continue to help women and black and disabled students get the right skills for the digital industry after receiving funding to offer £10,000 scholarships.
The university was part of a consortium that set up the Institute of Coding in 2017 which is combatting the UK’s digital skills gap through the delivery of employer-led digital skills education.
It offers courses in areas such as cyber security, programming, virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI), and ensures they are open to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as targeting women and black and disabled people.
The university has now been granted £780,000 in the latest round of funding from the Office for Students (OfS) as part of the AI and data science postgraduate conversion course scholarship programme. Coventry University will coordinate the efforts of universities across England to distribute these scholarships and work with industry to make even more scholarship opportunities available.
The money was put up by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) and will help Coventry University to offer £10,000 scholarships to study conversion programmes in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. These will be available to learners on a full-time or part-time basis with courses starting in September 2023 and January 2024.
Dr James Shuttleworth, Director of the Institute of Coding at Coventry University, said: “The funding for scholarships will allow Coventry University and the other members of the consortium to continue the work we have been doing to lower barriers to entering careers in technology. With data science and artificial intelligence becoming central to so many industries, it is vital that everyone has the opportunity to learn and ensure the UK has the diverse talent it needs.
The OfS will provide a total of £8.1 million funding for up to 817 scholarships, worth £10,000 each for the 2023-24 academic year. Thirty universities have been awarded a share of the funding to deliver scholarships to eligible underrepresented groups. Students can study a range of courses covering topics such as practical AI and data science skills, programming, machine learning, health data science and AI ethics.
Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of ensuring that the digital industry is open to all. Diversity and widening access to quality higher education is one of the hallmarks of Coventry University and this funding from the OfS will allow us to continue teaching a diverse and inclusive talent pool, who will in turn address the needs of our future society and support the development of a successful economy.”
John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said: “This funding provides opportunities for students underrepresented 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.
“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. We encourage more employers to get involved to nurture this talent and help train the digital workforce of tomorrow.”