February 27, 2024 | University Partners

Teesside University’s scholarships drive student success in AI and data science

Teesside University launched 20 scholarships last year to support students from under-represented backgrounds to study postgraduate degrees in AI and data science.

Teesside was 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 tackle digital skills gaps and a lack of diversity in the tech sector.

UK based engineering and manufacturing charity Enginuity also partnered with the University to fund two of the scholarships.

Analysis of the OfS postgraduate conversion course programme has shown that more than 950 scholarships were awarded to students from under-represented backgrounds. The programme has exceeded its target to deliver 2,500 graduates into the UK AI and data science workforce by autumn 2023, with 7,600 students enrolled up to September 2023.

Evaluation of the programme also positively highlighted Teesside University’s online learning and inclusive course design, and flexibility in delivery to help widen access to those working while studying.

Emily Bevington, who is completing the MSc Applied Artificial Intelligence, is among six Teesside University students awarded scholarships through the programme.

Emily said: “AI has advanced at a tremendous pace over the last 18 months or so, and the heavily regulated pharmaceutical industry I work within has not yet been able to fully realise the huge potential for innovation.

“I want to be at the frontier of that revolution. As I don't have a formal background in computer science, the MSc Applied AI course was an ideal entry point for me. By being awarded a scholarship, I've been able to balance work and family commitments without the added stress of financial burden, grow my skillset and connect with a diverse and supportive cohort of peers.”

Andrew Powell, who is also completing the MSc Applied Artificial Intelligence, said: “The course is really inclusive, as rather than being focused on the theoretical or mathematical, it’s teaching students how to use and implement the tools which are already there. The financial support provided by the scholarships is also helping me to continue to progress in my studies to PhD level.”

Lena Moroz, who is originally from Ukraine and is completing the MSc Applied Data Science, said: “I decided to apply for the scholarship to secure financial support during my master's studies. Thanks to the scholarship, I am able to study in an area which I wanted to delve into after completing my undergraduate degree in project management. My goal is to embark on research at the juncture of AI and business problem-solving and build the groundwork for my future PhD.”

Ann Watson, Chief Executive of Enginuity, said: “I’m originally from Middlesbrough and it’s really special to be able to offer scholarship support and hear from students who plan to progress as far as they possibly can with their studies.

“As an engineering skills charity, the scholarship programme has also completely aligned with our charitable aims in both supporting engineering enterprises in gaining access to much needed skills and talent, while providing new career opportunities for those accessing the scholarship.”

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 skills base needed to support business in the 21st century.”

Between April 2020 and March 2023, 37 postgraduate conversion courses in AI and data science were funded and delivered across 28 universities, of which 30 courses are entirely new. According to the evaluation for OfS, many students who did not previously have a qualification in these subject areas benefited from the programme to retrain in AI and data science.