Teesside University has launched 20 scholarships to support students from underrepresented backgrounds to study postgraduate degrees in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science.

The University is one of 30 UK institutions chosen by the Office for Students (OfS) to receive a share of £8.1m funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) to provide the scholarships aimed at increasing diversity in AI and data science.

North-East engineering charity Enginuity has also partnered with the University to fund two of the scholarships.

In addition, recipients of the scholarships have been offered support and engagement from a range of North East tech businesses including EnAppySys, Seer BI, and Unity.

Underrepresented groups including women, black students, disabled students and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds will be eligible for the scholarships which will help fund their studies in:

MSc Applied Artificial Intelligence
MSc Applied Data Science
MSc Data Science (TU London campus)

Professor Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) said: “Embracing diversity and removing the barriers to learning is at the heart of our mission at Teesside University.

“Therefore, we are delighted to have received this funding which will help a new generation of learners realise their ambition and fulfil their potential.”

Professor Chrisina Jayne, Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies, added: “AI and data science are cutting-edge disciplines which are becoming increasing sought after by employers.

“It is fantastic that these scholarships have been supported by industry partners, helping to ensure that we are developing the skillsbase needed to support business in the 21st century.”

Chief Executive of Enginuity, Ann Watson said: “Enginuity is delighted to be funding two scholarships in partnership with Teesside University.

“As an engineering skills charity this programme aligns completely with our charitable objects in both supporting engineering small and medium enterprises gain access to much needed skills and talent and providing new career opportunities for those accessing the scholarship.”

Minister for AI at DSIT, Jonathan Camrose said: “AI is increasingly being used to boost productivity and unlock growth in British industries. People from all walks of life should be able to access the exciting job opportunities this transformative technology is creating across the country.

“We’re investing millions to champion people underrepresented in tech so they get the skills to start a career in AI. I urge businesses to back the talent of tomorrow and offer their support for these important scholarships.”

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.

“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.”

For more information on the AI and data science scholarships at Teesside University visit: Office for Student Scholarships.